The Day Jesus Came

It was a day that started out like the other days of the journey. There was nothing in the air that signaled that today was the day that a special surprise was going to happen, a visit from Almighty God by His son, Jesus. The ancient word of the prophets had long predicted the event, but there was no word to indicate the day except for a longing expectation in the hearts of a few faithful saints.

As Joseph and Mary stirred that morning, there was a sense of urgency to get to Bethlehem before darkness fell that evening. They were on their last leg of a long, difficult, walking journey of approximately 100 miles depending on which route they took from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Their ruler, Caesar Augustus, had sent out a decree that all the world was to be taxed and each man had to return to his hometown to register. Because Joseph was in Mary’s hometown of Nazareth, and he was of the lineage of David, he had to return to Bethlehem.

Scripture doesn’t tell us all the details, but it does give us clues, so I am going to do some surmising as to what took place. Usually people traveled on foot or donkeys and in groups for safety from bandits, especially for such a long trip that took 7-10 days over rough terrain. Historians suggest that this journey most likely took place in September. (Some say it could have been early spring). September would be after the hot summer months of July and August and before the cold winter season set in. Shepherds would still be grazing their flocks of sheep in the fields.

Joseph was faced with a difficult dilemma. Mary was in her ninth month of pregnancy and heavy with child.  Her baby could be born any day. He had to pay his taxes or face heavy penalty or punishment and a group from Nazareth was preparing to go. He could not bear the thought of leaving Mary alone.  After weighing their options, they decided they had to go, together.  Joseph secured a donkey for Mary to ride (scripture does not give us this detail) and with nervous apprehension they joined the group of other travelers heading south.

Mary did not complain but the trip was all she could handle.  She was weary, sore and her back hurt. They struggled to keep up with the group. And then, finally, they were starting their last day, Bethlehem was within reach. They attempted to keep up with the group but as the day progressed they lagged further and further behind. Mary suspected she was in labor.  Joseph’s jaw tightened as he nervously watched Mary shifting on the donkey’s back, holding her back and silently rubbing her tightening belly.  He quietly urge the donkey forward, as he glanced at the sun setting over the western sky. Their group had long disappeared from view. Many thoughts tumbled through his mind as he began to question the wisdom of their decision, unaware they were plodding towards a divine appointment under the guidance and protection of the Almighty God. The ancient prophets had long foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

It was dark when the exhausted couple stumbled into Bethlehem. Joseph knew they were in urgent need of a place of rest and privacy. There were only a few guest rooms available in town for weary travelers.  Usually the locals would take travelers into their homes for the night. The little town was bustling with people, scurrying around caring for their families and animals. Lively chatter echoed from the rooftops as locals entertained their overnight guests. No where was there an extra room. The town was full to overflowing, their travel companions had beat them there. Finally, one sympathetic  innkeeper offered them a spot in the stable with his animals. It was all he had. He never dreamed he would soon be hosting the Son of God.

Joseph and Mary eagerly accepted his offer and a few hours later in the quietness of a dimly lit, earthy, smelly, stable, Emmanuel was born.

Emmanuel means “God with us” but no one seemed to notice or care that God had come. The exhausted couple was quietly resting on a pile of hay when suddenly they became aware of men cautiously and slowly inching towards them in the dimly lit, shadowy darkness. Humbly and reverently, the shepherds approached with awe.  It was just as the angels had told them, “You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

With excitement they told Joseph and Mary about their evening: how they were sitting in the field when suddenly a whole host of angels had joyfully visited them, praising God, and with the news that a Savior had been born. and where to find him. The never doubted it was God who had revealed the very special news to them and left their flocks immediately to go to Bethlehem. They left the stable excited with what they had seen and told everyone they met what they had just witnessed.

After the shepherds left, Joseph pulled Mary close and held her tight as they soaked in the significance of what had just happened. They had never doubted what God had told them about the baby but the circumstances had been so overwhelming, confusing and difficult. They had faced tremendous pressure, criticism and slander.  Only a few believed and supported them.

After the angel had confirmed to Joseph early in the pregnancy that Mary was indeed pregnant by the Holy Spirit and he was to take her as his wife as planned, he did so. Joseph tenderly loved and cared for her but did not consummate the marriage until after the period of purification following the birth of their son. Scripture was fulfilled, Jesus was born of a virgin.

An extra-ordinary day. Joseph and Mary knew without doubt that their precious baby was the Son of God. Their hearts swelled with joy at the needed reminder and confirmation from the shepherds. God was with truly with them. Emmanuel had come. They called him Jesus.

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Scripture references for the birth of Jesus:

  • Matthew 1
  • Luke 2

Credits:

Other Christmas blog posts:

The Magi’s Star

Light One Star

The Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible records the story but not the day.

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