The Birth of Jesus
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 his own town to register.
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. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
My Thoughts and Perspective
Can you imagine being as heavy with child as Mary was and traveling all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem? That was a distance of approximately 90 miles and they had to either walk that distance or be carried by an animal, a beast of burden. Our traditional Christmas story has Mary riding a donkey. I cannot even imagine such a journey being that pregnant and so close to delivery.
I would imagine, since they were a poor couple, that they were hoping to get to Bethlehem as soon as possible, to be counted (as a couple, as two) and to pay the taxes for that amount, hoping the baby would not be born and having that additional tax burden.
Then the time arrives and there was “no room in the inn” and so the child was born in a ‘barn’ and placed in a manger. While some describe the innkeeper as an example of uncaring, sinful mankind who rejected the Savior, was he? He allowed them an area of privacy where they could bring their child into the world. Privacy is something I required when giving birth, I can’t imagine the Mother of our Lord would be any different.
Shepherds were the first to whom the angels appeared and announced the birth of a Savior. Stinking, smelly, working men. Lowly in stature and yet the angels who heralded the birth of Christ appeared to the common, working man. Perhaps that is why people who heard the shepherds story were so amazed. Recently I heard a sermon that equated shepherds and fishermen of that era to truckers and bikers of our day. I wonder how accurate that is? It is a wonderful contrast though.
Next, at all these happenings, Mary was in awe and treasured them in her heart. Isn’t that just like a mother? How many of us recall little things about the birth of our children and little things they did when growing up? Perhaps we didn’t write these things down, but that have become a part of the oral history of our family. These are the things we share in a family gathering or with our child when they are feeling low or perhaps ill.
Finally, and most important, the Christmas story is about the Savior who was God in human flesh coming to earth to save us from our sins and to establish His Kingdom in our lives, in our hearts and in our homes. The issue is, will we allow Him to be the King, the Ruler of our lives? Will we submit to His authority and deny our own selfish ambitions? That is the chief of all questions, isn’t it? It is the question each of us needs to consider and ponder in our hearts for not only this Christmas season, but for the coming year.
I won’t be posting possibly until after the New Year, but I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a blessed Christmas and to thank you for your friendship, your prayers and for becoming such a very real part of my life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Because we’re His,