Adventure - Day 4

The Journey to Bethlehem

“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.”
Luke 2:1-5 NLT

If you’re married, and a man, it’s likely that you don’t really understand the significance of this story.  Here, you have a very pregnant Mary, who is going to have to travel for four days, averaging eight hours a day, ON A DONKEY!  All this just to get to your husbands ancestral home because the government said it had to be done.  I can NOT imagine that any of that trip was comfortable for Mary (she may have even had a few choice words for her beloved Joseph who would have had no idea what it was like to be pregnant, let alone ride a donkey at 9 months pregnant).

The risk involved in this trip was great.  Mary was obviously close to giving birth and it could have happened anywhere along the way.  Joseph likely chose to bring Mary, because it wouldn’t have been required for him to as the head of his household, in order to protect her from the people of Nazareth who likely still wanted to stone her for the perceived act of adultery..
But I can imagine some of the conversations that might have taken place on that trip.  Mary and Joseph had to know the time was getting close.  They both had accepted the divine nature of this child and his conception.  And as if parenting isn’t scary enough, they must have asked themselves questions along this trip like…

“How do we raise and teach the Son of God?”

“What if we mess Him up in some way?”

Talk about a scary adventure.  We’ll dig into their parenting adventure more in our last week of this series, but for now, just know that Mary and Joseph were ordinary people like you and I.  Ordinary, but courageous.  They chose to follow God through this experience even though it likely cost them family, friendships, business, and possibly even participation in the religious life of their community, all because  Joseph chose to stay by Mary’s side and raise her baby as his own.

I am so inspired by the courage of Mary and Joseph in this story, and eternally grateful that they said yes even though, I’m sure, it scared them to death.  Talk about risk!

And what’s interesting about Bethlehem is that it represents the place where the Jewish story and the Roman empire will collide.  Only one will win, and the winning team may just be led not by legions of soldiers and weapons of war, but by a young virgin, her blue collar husband, and a tiny fragile baby born in a manger and bathed in the light of a star.

  1. Has God ever called you to do something that scared you to death, and/or, that you didn’t think you could do?  If so, what? How did it turn out?
  2. God often chooses people to partner with who feel inadequate, unable to do answer His call.  How can you and I lean in to trusting God’s choices even when those choices lead Him to us?

By Pastor Paddy McCoy

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