Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 1’

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.

**********************************

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.

Hide and Seek

IMG_8110

I took this picture of two young calves resting or “hiding” in the buttercup laden pasture the other evening.   I don’t know what or how a mama cow tells her newborn baby “to stay put” but she will often stash or “hide” her baby in the grass, weeds or woods while she goes off to graze and the babes will usually  wait patiently for her to come back.  These calves were a little older but even when we drove near them they stayed hunkered down in their hiding spot.

It reminded me of one of my favorite sets of grandkid pictures (2008). The grandkids were playing a game of hide and seek. Lauren and Ryan hid their faces and counted while Emily and Karla found a place to hide and wait to be found.

 

Hide Seek-Ryan Lauren-2008

Hide_Seek-Karla_Emily-2008

Hiding can be a game of great fun. I remember playing hide and seek and  the “counter” would have to count to 100 and then holler, “A bushel of wheat, a bushel of rye. Whose not ready, holler I”.  You also hide when you are scared or seriously running from someone one or something  because of fear of being caught or found out.  I remember one time, way back in the 70’s, I was sitting at a stoplight in Richmond and got rear-ended from a distracted driver who then fled the scene. I was able to get his license plate number and the police found him several hours later hiding in the attic of his home.

There are some fascinating stories in the Bible of people who thought they could hide.  Hide and seek is as old as Adam and Eve who thought they could hide from God!  God went along with their little game and as He walked in the garden looking for them He calls out,  “Where are you”? They were hiding because they had disobeyed God and because of their sin they became aware that they were naked. They didn’t want God to see them so they hid behind  a tree! (Genesis 3:8-9)

  • Moses was hid in a woven basket on the river as a baby by his mother. He was found by Pharoah’s daughter who adopted him as her own and he grew up in the palace of the very king who had issued the order to kill all the newborn Hebrew males. (Exodus 2:1-10).
  • Later, Moses fled to the desert of Midian because he had killed a man and he feared for his life. He lived as a shepherd for 40 years. This experience prepared him for the huge task of leading the children of Israel through the desert. (Exodus 3)
  • Joshua sent men to spy out Jericho. They were in the home of Rahab when the king received word that they were in the city. The officers went looking for them but Rahab hid them under stalks of flax piled on the roof top.  This heathen prostitute was saved from destruction because of her faith and her name is found in the genealogy of King David and Jesus Christ. (Joshua 2, Matthew 1)
  • Saul, at his coronation, hid in the baggage. (I Samuel 10:21)
  • David, fearful for his life, for years hid in caves, forests and deserts from the wrath of King Saul who relentlessly tried to trap and kill him. (Most of I Samuel is the story of David’s hiding from Saul. Several examples are I Samuel 23, 24, and 26)
  • Jonah tried to flee from God. He hid in the bottom of a ship and ended up in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean because he didn’t want to go preach to the wicked city of Ninevah. (Jonah)
  • Elijah traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb because of the threat on his life by Queen Jezebel. He hid in a cave but God found him and  said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19)
  • About two years after the birth of Jesus, his parents fled to Egypt in the middle of the night to protect and hide Jesus from King Herod who, after a visit from the wise men, sought to kill the young child. (Matthew 2:13-15).
  • A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years thought she could hide in a crowd of people and just touch the hem of Jesus garment without him knowing. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”  The woman when she realized that she was exposed, came with fear and trembling and fell down before Jesus. And Jesus said, “Because of your faith, you are healed. Go in peace.” (Luke 8: 43-48).

David penned a beautiful, heart-felt, poignant psalm about the presence of God and his inability to hide from Him.  David knew, he had first hand experience. David had a sordid affair after spying a beautiful woman taking a bath while on a stroll one evening on the roof top of his palace.  He tried to hide his sin and in the process multiplied his evil deed by ordering the death of the Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, who was one of his thirty closest advisors.  God spoke to the prophet Nathan who confronted David and his sin was exposed. (II Samuel 11-12). In deep anguish David repented and these words poured from his sorrowful heart.

 

 Psalms 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Whether for fun or for real, we can hide, but almost always we are found.  And guess what….we are quite often as obvious as Adam and Eve with our shiny backsides sticking out from behind a tree!

%d bloggers like this: