Summary: This sermon focuses on the actual journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph before the birth of Christ
The Journey to Bethlehem
Years ago one of our daughters had a school assignment to write about her family’s Christmas traditions. She didn’t know what to write … because our family never had two Christmases alike. We have never lived near family. So at least half the time when we had vacation days … we loaded up in the car and took a long trip … either to Dalhart TX or to Scottsdale AZ.
Nowadays we end up traveling to our new “Mecca” of Lincoln IL … where two of our grandkids and assorted other relatives live. But this year, we got to stay home … and Kaysha, Chris, David, and Lydia made the 18-hour drive to TEXAS!
The first Christmas required a long journey. In fact, the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 90 miles, which would take about 8 to 10 days … maybe even longer when one of the travelers was nine-months pregnant.
1. Reason for the journey
Luke 2 tells the Reason for the Journey: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. Luke 2:1-3
It’s sounds very matter-of-fact … but that’s NOT how it would have felt to Mary and Joseph. In Mary’s ninth month of pregnancy, Roman soldiers arrived in Nazareth … to announce that the emperor had commanded a census. Everyone had to travel to the town where their family owned property so Rome could levy property taxes. Joseph’s family property was located in Bethlehem, so that is where he and Mary had to go.
To Mary and Joseph, this was just one more example of Roman oppression … and it messed up all their plans. Mary probably had a mid-wife she was familiar with there in Nazareth. She surely hoped to give birth surrounded by family and friends. Now, in the very last month, she was forced to make a trip that would be
dangerous, costly, and uncomfortable at best.
We aren’t told how Mary felt, but it would be normal for Mary to think something like this: “What is going on here? The Angel appeared to me months ago, and I know this baby will be nothing less than the Messiah! But now everything is going wrong. At the worst possible time I have to head off on this dangerous trip! What is God doing?”
Have you ever felt that way toward God? Have you ever been so disappointed or afraid that all you could do was cry out, “What is God doing?” You were hoping for a promotion, but instead you get laid off. You prayed for healing, but the sickness got worse. You thought you had found a great relationship, but now you’ve been left all alone.
When we look at the circumstances of life, we often wonder, “What is God doing?” The problem is that we are looking at circumstances. We are looking at what we can SEE with our physical eyes. The truth is that reality is so much more than what is visible to the human eye. What we CAN’T see is actually the most important reality of all.