Reading: Luke 2:1-7
Verse 4: “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth… to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.”
As Luke’s birth of Jesus story begins, a census is ordered. Caesar Augustus decrees that all people travel to their home towns to be counted. In verses 4 we read, “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth… to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.” The purpose of this census was not a lot different than the ones we take every 10 years in the US. The gathering of data is useful to the government for planning and decision making. It is amazing to me that God uses (and probably orchestrates) this secular action that places Joseph and Mary 90 miles from home – but right where the prophets said the Messiah would be born.
Once they arrive in Bethlehem, we see that Mary gives birth, swaddles the baby, and “places him in the manger” – because “there was no room for them in the inn.” Born is a stable or a cave – either way it was a humbling and extraordinary place for Jesus to be born. It was humbling for Joseph and Mary too. The “inn” that refused them a room, well, that would’ve been spare rooms in extended family’s homes. They saw a very pregnant Mary and a new husband and, in essence, said, ‘Not in my house.’ Finally a relative with a little compassion sends them out back to the animals’ quarters. There Jesus is born.
Even though Joseph’s hard decision to follow the guidance of the angel ‘costs’ he and his wife, he was faithful. Here again we see God at work in the ways of the world, using even the bad to work things out according to God’s plan. Christ would grow up to shepherd his people as a humble servant. Where better to start off than in a stable! In all things – from Jesus’ birth to our lives – God works for the good. Day by day may we trust in the God who always makes a way.
Prayer: Lord God, you are ever present and always loving and good. You have provided and protected, redeemed and defended, restored and guided me day after day. Thank you for the work of your hands in my life. Amen.