“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with Child.” (Luke 2:1-5 ESV)
You would think that of everyone, God would be exempt from a tax registration. But God didn’t think so. At almost nine months along, Jesus traveled to Bethlehem within His mother’s womb, going with Joseph to be registered for a project of the Roman government. Even God didn’t get out of that one.
It couldn’t have been comfortable for any of them. In pictures we usually see Mary riding a donkey—but there’s nothing in the Bible text to say she had one. She may have walked, like everybody else. The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a long one—about 80 or 90 miles. It would have involved camping on the side of the road if they were not lucky enough to find a family kind enough to take them in. And how Joseph must have worried!
This is the way God chose to enter the world—subject to human laws, even the annoying ones; subject to the uncertainties and dangers of ordinary life; subject to, well, everything. God came down from His throne to be, not the ruler, but a subject. A Roman subject. Why? For us. For you. For the ones He came to save.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for humbling Yourself for me. Amen.
* What do you think was the hardest part of Mary’s experience?
* Why do you think God chose to handle things this way?
* What does God’s humility say about the way He will care for you?
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on December 24, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserve