These days, a happy, or unhappy, trip is measured by flight delays, bag arrival, and the rudeness factor of passengers. Traveling can be rough. Bless my heart, right?
Back To Bethlehem
The betrothed couple faced a hard journey, for Caesar Augustus had declared a census of the entire Roman world. Joseph would have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the town of David.
He and Mary traveled together, going southeast around Samaria, then along the Jordan River to Jericho. Then they headed southwest to Bethlehem, eight miles south of Jerusalem.
It was a ninety-mile journey and Mary was nine months pregnant.
Riding a camel, travelers could make twenty miles a day, fewer on a donkey. We don’t know if Joseph owned such animals; it would be uncommon for a young couple to have them. But given Mary’s condition, it’s unthinkable that she would have walked the ninety miles.
They could have stayed in homes at night, given the sacred honor of Jewish hospitality. But they might have pitched a tent. Temperatures would be in the 50’s and in the 40’s at night. In December, the nights could drop to freezing. It would be a difficult trip for Joseph and nothing short of miserable for Mary.
On The Trail
I wonder what they talked about; was it all about the baby?
Maybe they discussed prophecies? They knew the baby was due. Did they connect the dots between Micah’s prophecy and being in Bethlehem? Did they discuss what would happen if the baby came while they traveled? Did they know that Jesus could only be born in Bethlehem?
We know Bethlehem is a part of Christmas, just part of the story. But truthfully, the trip was difficult, dangerous, and painful.
His birth was announced by angels, witnessed by shepherds, and honored by the Magi. He survived King Herod and life in exile, and then finally made it home. When the time came, he went to the cross. But before any of that could happen, Mary and Joseph had to make it to Bethlehem.
Our Savior was born to strong and determined parents.
They were so young, so unprepared, but willing and submissive to God.
We should be grateful. There would not have been a Christmas if it wasn’t for them.