TEXT: And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (Luke 2:4-5)
It must have been difficult for Mary to travel at nine months pregnant. The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was 70 miles as the crow flies, but there were hills to climb the direct way. Mary and Joseph probably went the longer way, adding 20 miles to the trip.
Walking that far is no easy task. And in spite of all the Christmas cards and nativity scenes, we have no reason to believe Mary had a donkey to ride. I hope she did, though. The trip must have been hard enough!
Really, I have to wonder why Mary made the trip at all. Joseph had to register, but Mary could have stayed home and had her baby in her own home, with the help of relatives and neighbors. That sounds much more comfortable, not to mention safer.
But if she had stayed home, Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. And God had promised years ago by the prophet Micah that the Messiah would be born there and nowhere else.
Did Mary go with Joseph because she remembered this? Perhaps. Or she may have just wanted to be with her husband and away from judgmental, prying relatives and neighbors who wondered about the birth too soon after the wedding.
One way or the other, God saw to it that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. God always keeps His promises, even if it takes influencing a Roman emperor to call a census affecting large parts of the world. Even if it means breaking the laws of nature, so a virgin has a baby. Even if it means sending His own Son into this world of suffering and death so that we might be adopted as children of God.
And if God did all this to keep His promises in the past, how much more can we trust Him to keep His promises to us today!
THE PRAYER: Father, thank You for promising eternal life to everyone who trusts in Your Son Jesus. I believe You, Lord, and I rejoice. Amen.