So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
Seems like Mary and Joseph just can’t catch a break. They’ve already been through so much:
Surely there were behind the back whisperings, and well meaning “Job” counselors, and plenty of the enemy’s fiery darts of doubt to go around.
Then there was that separation time while Mary “got outta Dodge” for a while to see Cousin Elizabeth…
And now Rome is being a bully again: mandating a count of their Jewish ‘possessions.’ There are no ‘extensions given. No extenuating circumstances accepted. No mercy extended. It’s “Go. Get yourself counted. We don’t care what your “excuse” is, or how far you have to travel… just get it done.
So Joseph and Mary go.
But getting to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem is no easy trek. It’s an 80 miles to walk in a direct path. Most, will make it in 4 days, but Samaria (a dangerous hood) lay in that path, and Mary is so big with child… No, the couple is most likely looking at a week’s travel one way.
… But surely God knows this. He’ll wait, right?
And then there’s Bethlehem.
Like every other town under this edict: congested with disgruntled sojourners and opportunists trying to make a buck with the crowds. Long lines. Loud voices. So much hustling, bustling and tussling. The first Black Friday – census style.
But Mary and Joe arrive too late,
and now there’s no room for them,
and God doesn’t wait…
– the baby’s coming.
… Talk about a whirlwind of Life testing the limits!
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”
“While they were there, the time came”… that’s all the Holy Spirit has to say?!
Oh my gosh I would have told this story differently. I would have filled the pages with emotions and thoughts, dialog and details.
How were they feeling? What were they thinking? What words were shared? Were they impatient and irritable? Did their concern turn to desperate confusion? Was every “no”… turned into a shouted desperate prayer? And what about the witnesses, and bystanders — and all that heard the shepherds cry. Not to mention all the scoop of the back story!
… Yes sirree, I would have told it differently.
Yet -despite all the unwritten intrigue – it is the beautifully austere simplicity of God’s Word that made its way to the pages that lay open on my lap this cold December morning:
The plan is made.
The welcoming committee is summoned.
Signs are proclaimed.
“While they were there the time came…”
– The manger is filled-
It is finished.
The Story is written.
The Father sent His son into a tough situation, full of everything we understand so well: emotions, tensions, deadlines, confusion, relationship ‘bumps’ and bruises, last minute glitches, all the “Now what’s? God sent His living, breathing Word into it all.
… And He still does.
Regardless of how hot or cold the emotions run, how confused or determined the plans, how faith-filled or frightened the unknowns…
Regardless of any useless words uttered in the heat of passion, or tears stained with doubt, or backs buckled with pressure…
Regardless of it all – despite all the untold stories and drama and Black Friday madness – it is only the
of God’s Word lying in a manger
that changes lives.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
… nor will it.
Jesus, your light still shines. Oh that it would shine bright in me
Watering Today: John 1; Luke 1- 2; Matthew 1