The events surrounding the birth of Christ are fascinating to study. God was at work on many fronts. He sent his angel to speak to Zechariah the priest and worked a miracle in he and his wife, Elizabeth’s life. He gave them a son in their old age, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus.
He sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce to her that she had been chosen to bear God’s Son. He sent the angel to Joseph to reassure him and to instruct him to go ahead and take Mary as his wife. God also sent the angels to announce the birth of his son to the shepherds.
One of the events I have often wondered about and marveled at is Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem. They lived in Nazareth. Prophecy had foretold that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. So God needed to get Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. He could have just sent an angel with the message, “Take Mary to Bethlehem”. That would have been easy. It would have been simple. But he also needed the inn to be filled so that Jesus would be born in the humble surroundings of a stable as he had planned.
What I find interesting (and a little bit amusing) is that God didn’t just send an angel. It seems he decided to let the whole world participate. Instead of speaking through an angel, God had an emperor speak to the whole world…
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a
decree from Caesar
Augustus, that all the world should be taxed… And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.” (Luke 2:1&3)
So here we find the whole world on the move just so Joseph and Mary would be in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. To the world at large it appeared that the Roman emperor had upset their schedules and lives in order to take something from them—taxes.
But the greater reality was that God was at work in their lives, not to take from them, but to give something to them—a savior! The plan and the workings of God were just too big and complex for them to understand from where they were at the time.
I’m convinced that God still works in our lives that way. We may not understand why we go through certain things or why it seems our prayers are not being answered. It may even seem at times that God has forgotten us. But it is only because we are seeing life from our limited perspective with our limited knowledge.
In those times when it doesn’t make sense, when you can’t understand, or when you can’t see the hand of God working in your life, you can rely on the promises of his Word. As Paul said, “We walk by faith, not by sight”. (2 Cor. 5:7)
I pray that this Christmas season will remind you of how much God loves you. You are so precious to him that he gave his own Son. He risked it all to save you. Let us do as the shepherds did so many years ago. Let us worship him and then go out and tell the good news abroad… A Savior is born!