By Karen Polich
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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:4-7
Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David. Joseph was descended from the line of David. This is what brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It was time for the first census. Rome wanted to know who could serve in the army and what taxes could be collected.
Did Mary really have to go on this journey? Married, Joseph and Mary were committed to one another and to God. Would others have understood this? Two teens in this situation may have endured their share of scandal concerning this pregnancy.
Bethlehem wasn’t a big place. Most likely it didn’t have a formal inn. Any nice place to stay would have already been taken by the Romans and affluent Jewish families. Travel was by animal, so an adjacent shelter for animals would have been common.
Wrapping baby Jesus in cloth was not extraordinary, but laying Him in a feed trough in the midst of the animals wasn’t what we would expect. Isn’t God like that in our lives? He comes to us in the stench and smell of this broken world and makes Himself known. No need for a grand entrance or loud announcement, He is there, loving us. His simple birth demonstrates this.
In the fullness of time, God sent forth His son.
The God of eternity, the God of immensity pushed His way into this world as the firstborn son of Mary. Mary would have other children, but Jesus was firstborn and the primary inheritor. (Matthew 13: 55-56) Through Joseph’s lineage Jesus would be next in line to be the king, lining up with prophecy.
Our God is mighty beyond our imagination, yet He came to us in humility, a King born without a royal procession. This Savior would walk this earth until giving Himself as the ultimate sacrifice.