The Birth of Jesus

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 1, 2023

Luke 2:1-7

The Birth of Jesus

The map above depicts the distance from Merritt Island, FL., where my wife and I live, and Port St. Lucie, FL. The distance between the two cities is approximately 93 miles via I-95. I’ve traveled between my home and Port St. Lucie many times. Depending on traffic, the trip takes about 1 ½ hours.

When you look at it from the perspective of driving your car between the two cities, the distance doesn’t seem far at all. But what if you had to walk or ride a donkey 93 miles on a rocky dirt road? How long would it take you to travel, say, 6-8 hours a day?

Mary and Joseph took just such a trip. They traveled from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem. The distance was about the same, about 90 miles. But, it is believed that they took upwards of a week to make the journey. Maybe it’s because Mary was pregnant and in her third trimester. She was very close to giving birth to God’s Son when she and Joseph made the trip.

***********************The Point*******************

Let’s take a look at the NIV of Jesus’ birth as described in Luke’s Gospel.

“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.” Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)

Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus is stated very simply. A census was taken, so everyone had to return to their hometown to be counted. Mary was pregnant with Jesus at the time, and she and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for the census. While they were there, she gave birth to her firstborn son, Jesus. As there was no room in the local inn, the baby was born in a manger (a feeding trough), so we can presume they were in a barn when Jesus was born.

This is how the Son of God came into the world. Quietly, unassuming with no fanfare or celebration. Just a baby being born in a stable because there was no room in the inn.

I’d like you to reread verses 1-5, but this time from the KJV of the book of Luke.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”                    Luke 2:1-5 (KJV)

Mary and Joseph did indeed go to Bethlehem because of the census. And at the same, they, like everyone else, paid a tax. Not only were they taxed, but the text says,

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”

Caesar Augustus decreed that the entire world should be taxed. This is why Joseph and Mary, who was great with child, traveled to Bethlehem to be counted (Census) and taxed accordingly.

As I said earlier, there was no fanfare (until the angels appeared to the shepherds after the birth). Then, Jesus came quietly into this world, born in a manger in a stable/barn.

In my introduction, I mention the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was, and is, just a little over 90 miles. However, in my research, I found that Mary and Joseph probably only traveled 2 ½ miles per hour because of the terrain. So if they traveled 8 hours a day, the trip to Bethlehem would have taken 4 ½ days.

The Bible and history don’t tell us anything other than the trip was made and Mary was pregnant. There is no evidence that the couple traveled with a donkey for Mary to ride. If that’s true, I can’t even imagine how she made the trip at all. Several sources said the trip probably took closer to a week.

God must have given Mary and Joseph amazing strength and perseverance to travel that distance under less-than-ideal conditions and Mary being pregnant. Yet, donkey or no donkey, they made the trip. They survived, arrived, and had to be content with staying in a stable, and Mary gave birth there.

Do you know who I think was the happiest? Mary? Joseph? No, I believe God was delighted. Because Mary and Joseph had listened to the angel Gabriel, He had sent. They followed instructions, and they stuck with God’s plan.

Because of their faith, and love of God, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Just as God had planned it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s