Summary: We are all forced to take journeys in our lives...journeys of inconvenience and discomfort. Sometimes these journeys take us to the place God wants us to be and we never know what or who we may find at the end of each journey.
The Journey to Christmas
Luke 2:1-7 (The Message)
(About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.)
Imagine how Joseph & Mary must’ve felt being forced to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
We already know from scripture that Joseph had just learned from an angel that Mary was pregnant.
Imagine how Joseph must’ve felt...He just found out the woman he loved was pregnant & the child wasn’t his.
Then, Joseph an angel tells him everything is fine – “The child’s name will be Emmanuel, God is with us.”
Joseph continued working with his carpentry & all was well – or so it seemed...He gets more upsetting news.
Joseph receives news from the Roman government he would have to journey to Bethlehem to be counted.
Here’s Joseph; a simple carpenter forced to take he and Mary, who was pregnant, on an unexpected journey.
Rome didn’t care that this Jewish peasant couple was about to have a baby; all they cared about were their taxes.
So, the journey began; the couple began their 80-100 mile journey to be counted by the Roman government.
This journey Joseph and Mary were about to take was not routine by any stretch of the imagination.
(The route they most probably would have taken would be the traditional route of any Jew traveling south from Galilee to Judea. The Jewish traveler would avoid the land of the Samaritans. The Jews
did not have a good attitude toward the Samaritans. )
Again, this was not a typical journey for a Jewish family; their journey was not routine! .
One thing is true: Joseph & Mary both had to learn to trust God in the midst of this unexpected adventure.
I wonder if they recalled the name that would be given to the child: Emmanuel – God is with us.
I wonder if they found comfort in the words Joseph’s ancestor David wrote in Psalm 23:4.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”
The journey Joseph & Mary were taking to Bethlehem was forced upon them, but it did have a purpose.
Let’s look again at why Joseph & Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem . . . They took the trip to be counted.
So what does all of this mean to us today? How does it apply to our lives?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you absolutely did not want to be?
Perhaps you were forced to take a journey you didn’t want to take—a job change, a move, a relational upset.
Like Joseph and Mary, we all find ourselves forced to take journeys we don’t wish to take.
These journeys may not come from God directly, but are forced upon us by life’s circumstances.
In the midst of these journeys, we may feel disappointment or wonder if God has abandoned us.
I wonder if perhaps Mary and Joseph felt some of the same feelings on the journey to Bethlehem.
We are all forced to take such journeys in our lives on occasions...journeys of inconvenience and discomfort.
We don’t always have control during these journeys, and they can also prove to be perilous and difficult.
It’s truly amazing how God works in our lives, even during times when we’re confused, broken, or wounded.
Too often there is too much we don’t really know about the journeys we are forced to make.
But here’s what I do know...God promises to be with us and He will not abandon us while on these journeys.
Sometimes, God’s greatest work comes out of the journeys we don’t want to take!
Some of you may be on such a journey right now...If so, trust God to walk with you and bring good from it.
Sometimes, we think things happen in our lives that are simply coincidences...Is that really so?
Look back at the many journeys you’ve taken during your lives and most likely you’ll see the hand of God.
Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem – Joseph & Mary took the journey for that’s where they were supposed to be.
The question for us to ask ourselves is: Am I ready to take the journey so I can be where God wants me to be?