“[Joseph] took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke 2:5-7, NLT).
Those who have lived with or been a woman in the final stages of pregnancy will shake their heads in wonder over Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem if they ever studied the map (Obviously I never experienced either one, so I just use my imaginations). Neither walking nor riding a donkey for several days could be described as anything but uncomfortable. Apparently the Romans had no provision in the taxation laws for filing a late return – Joseph and Mary were required to report, extenuating circumstances notwithstanding. “All [people throughout the Roman Empire] returned to their own ancestral towns to register for census” (Luke 2:3). A must.
Countless telling of the Christmas story have compressed the time between the couple’s journey and Jesus’ arrival. We usually picture the weary soon-to-be-parents wandering into Bethlehem in the evening, with Mary already feeling contractions, and the “No Vacancy” signs posted in the inn. Actually, Jesus was born in a little town, perhaps only large enough to have one inn. Necessity forced the couple to take shelter in some kind of alternative housing that had a manger. Since the “manger” indicates a place where animals were housed, it is likely that Jesus was born in a cave. This ironically means that Jesus spent both his arrival night (his birth) and his departure night (his burial and resurrection) in a cave.
Regardless the exact location, Jesus’ birth went largely unnoticed by the world. The scant details point to the simplicity and commonness of his birth. God, taking on flesh, entered life in the same messy, painful, and wonder-filled way that every human does. The King of kings didn’t get royal treatment at birth. Right from the start, only a few really understood and welcomed the Saviour.
Think about this: Familiarity with the story sometimes causes us to relive the events of Jesus’ birth with mild indifference. But what would be our fate if the Saviour had never been born? The wonder doesn’t come from trying to imagine all the ways God might have arranged to rescue us; the wonder comes in realizing that this was, in fact, the way God fulfilled his promises. I am amazed by God and how Jesus the Saviour of the world coming to us.
One response is necessary: Worship!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011)