In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Have you ever thought about what must have been going through Joseph and Mary’s minds as they went through this ordeal? In faith, Mary had told God he could do what he wanted with her and Joseph went and took Mary as his wife even though she was pregnant. Now, their faith is being stretched to, what would be for many of us, the snapping point.
First of all, my reaction to the news of having to travel by foot for over a week somewhere if my wife were pregnant would not make me jump up and down with glee. No, I would probably laugh and say, “No.” But I respect Joseph for giving what was Caesar’s to Caesar. He obeyed the authorities that God had placed over him, and in faith, obeyed God through those authorities, even when it was hard.
And then when they got there, the most suitable place for them to stay was in the stable. I have to imagine that, based on their previous faith, they met these circumstances with the same resolute and reckless faith that they had already proven themselves to have. A few days later, we see Mary treasuring in her heart all of the things that the shepherds were saying; true treasuring doesn’t happen in a heart that is embittered and weighted with doubt. I also have to think that, even though their faith was being stretched, it was also being broadened. That’s what trials do. When we faithfully obey and yet go through hard trials, we can count it all joy when we meet them, because “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness,” which leads to maturity and completion (James 1:2-4).
And so, when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son; he was born of woman and wrapped in swaddling cloths. But he was “born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). In faith, we trust in Christ, who was born to save the sons of earth and died to give them second birth. In faith, we continue to follow him.
What Child is This?
words by William C. Dix
What Child is this who, laid to rest On Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste, to bring Him laud, The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here The silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, The cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, Come peasant, king to own Him; The King of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him. Raise, raise a song on high, The virgin sings her lullaby. Joy, joy for Christ is born, The Babe, the Son of Mary.