Summary: After the marraige, Joseph and Mary had to travel ninety miles to pay a Roman tax. Once in Bethlehem, Baby Jesus was born and changed the lives of His earthly parents and all of the world forever.
HONORABLE HERO HELPS HEROINE
If we combine the stories concerning Joseph here in Luke’s writings with that of Matthew, we can get a time line, of sorts, concerning Joseph and the birth of Jesus.
In Matthew, chapter one, we find where Joseph’s fears were allayed and according to the dream given to him by God assured him that all was going to be well. Upon awaking from that one specific dream, Joseph then proceeded to marry his espoused wife and the household was ready for the birth of Jesus. Sometime after the wedding, we see Joseph and Mary making their way to Bethlehem to pay a tax to the mighty Roman government. While there, the Baby Jesus was born and the Holy family became forever synonymous with this little town in Israel.
We are not told when the trip was made in regards to the months after the wedding, but it was probably sometimes within the first eight months of that union. Marry was expecting when the marriage was completed. Regardless of the time of marriage the time frame suggests that the marriage was not even a year old when the two made the arduous trip to Bethlehem to comply with the recent edict of the conquering government.
The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 90 miles. Today, with our fast cars and supper highways, this is not a great distance. But for one to walk this distance on foot or riding from the back of a donkey, it was indeed a long and difficult trip. If one would be able to cover five miles a day under this circumstances it does not take a great student of math to contemplate that this trip was a long and drawn out affair. It could be safely estimated that the trip for Joseph and Mary was at least twenty days-one way-in duration, and that is giving a conservative estimate. It is no wonder that Luke candidly states that while the couple were in Bethlehem, Mary’s time came for her deliverance of Baby Jesus.
We often are reminded that the couple came into the city and had no luck the first night of trying to find appropriate lodging. The text does not give the time when the Baby was born. Jesus could have been born that very first night upon the arrival of the two newly weds, or He could have been born later. What we do know is that the Holy Family was staying in sometime of a barn enclosure. It could simply mean that regardless of the time when Mary went into labor, the family was not staying in an Inn. What we do know is that the Baby came while they tarried in Bethlehem.
Regardless whether it was the first night of the family’s entrance into Bethlehem or sometime later, Baby Jesus was born there and that little village of no account has now became one of the more sacred spots on Earth for we Christians. We have heard much about Mary, the Baby Jesus, the angles who sang so heartily and the shepherds who were watching their flocks, but what about Joseph? As I study this passage in Luke, I note three things about this wonderful man and I am proud to call him an Honorable Hero.
The first thing I see about Joseph has to do with his HERITAGE: who he was and from where did he come. The next part of my sermon has to do with the events unfolding or the clear and unmistaken HAPPENSTANCES wherein he found himself at the birth of Jesus. Lastly, I note his unreserved and unbiased HOSPITALITY to all the characters on the birth night of Jesus.
I. HIS HERITAGE: The Bible states that Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth. The heritage of this man and his bride are intricately tied to the place where they lived. Galilee was one of the three most northern provinces of Palestine. Being one of the three most northern parts of the Holy Land, the population became mixed with those who were not Jews and who felt freer to live according to their wishes being on the peripheral of the sacred land.
Due to this feeling of being farther away from the center of Israel’s hub, the people gradually tended to develop their own morals and ethics. This was especially noted in the city of Nazareth, wherein the Holy parents lived. It was also the place where Jesus was taken to be raised and due to the darkness of the people, He found a more ready audience here than He did in some other places of Israel. It was here He began His ministry and it was here He had success in proclaiming the gospel of His Father. It was in such a place that Joseph called Home and it was the place where he and Mary lived for a short time before the Baby was born. This place he called Home was a vital part of his HERITAGE from which he could never disassociate himself. Even after he returned from Egypt with Mary and Jesus, he turned his heart towards Home and returned there to live out his days on this earth.