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 their 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 guest room available for them.
Our Savior was born into a messy world during a time full of slavery, idolatry, and focus on things like money, power, sex, and status.
Luke is the only disciple to record the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. He tells a brief, but powerful, account of the circumstances that surrounded Mary and Joseph as they obeyed and fulfilled their part in the greatest event known to man.
An unwed, young mother traveled between 80 and 90 miles on a donkey, into the hills to find no place for her to give birth. She went there because of the census, but as followers of Jesus we know it was for a far greater purpose. The choice was something along the lines of a barn or a cave. Because of the situation and the census, she most likely did what God had called her to do without family, friends, nurses, or doctors to help her bring a baby into the world. That’s right, she was mostly likely alone when she gave birth to our Savior. The scripture indicates that Joseph wasn’t even there when the time came.
Scared, in pain, and without help, she wrapped Him in swaddling cloths—which are strips of linen. Thirty-three years later, He would be wrapped up in strips of linen again.
Imagine how Joseph was feeling in this moment. There was a lot of gossip surrounding a virgin with child. Technically they weren’t married yet, but let’s just say he assumed the role of the husband as leader and provider. As the husband, he would have wanted the best for his pregnant wife and unborn baby. He had no money and no way to provide and had to haul Mary around on a donkey. She gave birth in an unglamorous location. That had to be hard on Joseph’s ego and pride.
They were at peace and carried out their part of God’s plan. God’s plan isn’t always comfortable. Mary and Joseph chose to trust and obey despite their own fears, feelings, desires, or preferences. Through their obedience, God is glorified and His peace is spread wherever the Christ child is received.
The Messiah and the promised Savior chose to be born in the messiest, least swanky, and loneliest place possible. He did that for a reason. He is brilliant and does anything and everything to meet us right where we are.
He started with humble beginnings as an example and model of His love and desire to be unified with us right in the middle of our messy and unglamorous lives.
The gift of Christmas is that we are still those people and He is still the humble yet powerful Savior that still saves.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being born into our world and reminding us that You made a way to be with us. Help us to celebrate that. Help us to push through the circumstances of our messiness and to be obedient like Mary and Joseph. In Jesus’ name-Amen.