But another trial still lay ahead for Mary and Joseph. For that we go to Luke 2:1–3:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
Mary, now nearly ready to deliver, had to go with Joseph to Bethlehem, the city of David, their ancestor, to register for the census. The trip was nearly 90 miles. It had to be made either on a donkey or on foot. Either way it was a long and arduous journey. We can easily imagine how exhausted Mary must have been, possibly already in early labor, when they arrived in Bethlehem. Turned away because the inn was packed with others who had also come to register for the census, they climbed down the steep hillside on which the inn had been built and found shelter in the cave under the inn, where animals were stabled. There, Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Holy One of God, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a cattle food trough.
An insignificant couple arrived as strangers at the end of a long and tiring journey. A simple peasant girl faced the delivery of her first child virtually unattended, with no material comfort, no conveniences. All this could have passed completely unnoticed. But it didn’t. God had other plans.
Once again an angel of the Lord brought terror when he came calling. A band of shepherds in a nearby field learned of the birth of this seemingly insignificant baby to virtually unknown parents in a dirty stable in an out-of-the-way town on the eastern rim of the Mediterranean Sea. Suddenly all that seemed insignificant was revealed to hold life-changing, world-changing significance as God stamped that event with his great plan.
“Today,” the shepherds were told, “in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (luke 2:11). A Savior. The Christ. The Lord. Immanuel, God with us. Jesus, the One who would save his people from their sins. The Redeemer promised to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15. The One whose coming would restore for each of us the possibility of a personal relationship with God our Creator. The One who broke the curse of death and will one day free us from the curse of alienation once and for all.
You can hear his voice in the Scriptures. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (john 14:1 nkjv).
Almighty God, as the children of our first parents, Adam and Eve, we too have sinned against you.
Every time we hear Mary’s story, we find ourselves overwhelmed by how much we need your mercy.
We do believe in you, but not nearly as deeply as you deserve. We do believe in your Son, but not as though we deserve anything that he did for us.
Thank you for asking your lowly servant Mary to bear for us the Redeemer who would eventually live and die and rise from the dead in our place.
Please grant us the forgiveness and life that your Son offered when he said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (john 5:24 nkjv).