“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” Luke 2:1-7
The day had finally arrived- Jesus was born! Galatians 4:4 says, “But WHEN THE RIGHT TIME CAME, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.”
The Roman emperor (Ceasar), Augustus was the ruler of the day-this is how ancient writers identified the historical setting for an event (Jesus’ arrival on our planet actually defined the parameters of time as we now know it)!
So, during the time period when Jesus was born, Augustus decided to take a census of his people. Everyone was required to return to their hometown to register. This meant that Joseph had to return to Bethlehem to register because he was a direct descendant of King David. He took his young fiance, Mary, whom verse 5, says “who was now expecting a child” with him. Let’s think about this for a moment: why would a man take his pregnant fiance on a 90 mile trip from Nazereth to Bethlehem, at best, on the back of a donkey, but possibly even by foot? Why didn’t she stay with her parents that couple of weeks? Since women were not included in events like being counted in that day, it’s quite possible that Mary had been shunned by her household (see Dec 9 when we talked about the awkward conversations Mary had to have with Joseph and her family when she learned from the angel Gabriel, that she would carry the Son of God, as a virgin.) Could it possibly be that Mary went with Joseph because she had no other place to go? Maybe!
None-the-less, the young couple made the long trip, by foot to Bethlehem! Micah 5:2 had predicted that Bethlehem would be Jesus’ birthplace, so this census, ordered by a Roman ruler, set up the events that fulfilled that prophecy!
So while they are in Bethlehem, “the time came for her baby to be born.” (vs 6). Mary gave birth to Jesus! She wrapped Him up in “swaddling clothes” or what our text calls “strips of cloth”. These were unused grave wrappings, not ideal, but available! A feeding trough in a manger, which was a cave or lean-to, was Jesus’ first cradle, “because there was no lodging available for them.”
Jesus, the King of the Universe, was born in a barn and wrapped in grave clothes for warmth, of a virgin, who was technically a single mom, and her fiance, Joseph, whose normal life had been interrupted by having to travel, by foot, 90 miles for a census, required of a brutal, pagan king, and oh yeah, raising God’s Baby! What an awesome story! But this story and it’s Central Figure, the Baby Boy Jesus, CHANGED THE WORLD!
In our stories, submitting to God’s will and pursuing His plan for our lives, isn’t always easy and convenient-often, it’s difficult and even opposed by the devil! It is ALWAYS BEST, however! What would this story look like if Mary & Joseph’s lives hadn’t been interrupted by God’s plans for the birth of His Son?
How willing are we to lay aside our plans, aspirations and agendas, and go with God’s?
Think about it!