Read Luke 2:1-7
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So 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. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and 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. (NIV)
We have Luke’s simple version of the birth of Christ in these few sentences. And we see the struggle Mary and Joseph went through in the few days leading up to the birth of Christ. First is the travel. Bethlehem was about 80 miles from Nazareth. The typical Jew could travel about 20 miles a day. This would have made the normal trip about 4 days. But with Mary being so pregnant, one can almost assume that the journey took longer as she probably could not travel as far each day as they hoped. Some speculate that it took them twice as long as normal to travel. The result of that delay is that the town is crowded and there is no place for Mary and Joseph.
We do know the Romans took censuses regularly for various taxation and other support means. We have even found a document from one the Romans called in Egypt for people to return to their hometowns such as stated in this passage.
But we also see the symbolic gesture of God coming to humanity in the form of a person. God came to a world that was crowed, distracted and caring more for one individual comfort and care than others. Humanity has a way of cycling this way throughout history. We get away from God’s way of living and then somehow, we turn back to God.
But there has always been some who remain faithful. In our picture of the birth is there was someone who offered Mary and Joseph a quiet place for the birth to happen. When visiting Bethlehem, one notices that many of the homes where natural cave that were large enough to have a family in. But it was also show that the typical home had a place for the animals to come in during the evening. If the home was not a cave, it might have been a two-story home were the animals were brought into the first floor. This was a way for those that only had a few animals to keep them from being stolen. Those with larger amounts could afford to hire help to watch them at night.
But we also see in this picture the humility that Christ came in. He came where no one would not be accessible to him. He came to connect with all of us, regardless of our circumstances. As you go this week, think about how you connect to Christ on a daily basis. Do you view him as one is there, waiting to talk to you and hear from you? Or do you view him as only there for the big problems? Do you view him as too important to be bothered by your small concerns? This is not the proper view of Christ. Christ came to be with you and restore you to the image of God. You are that important to Christ. We need to remember that as we contemplate the birth of Christ.
Blessings and Peace