Day Ten: The Twelve Days of Christmas
I measure trips as good or bad based on the following criteria:
- on time departures
- on time arrivals
- rudeness/kindness of passengers
- professionalism of the flight crew
- the freshness of the pretzels
All I’m saying is that I shouldn’t have to pay a lot of money to be treated badly, alive late, and then discover that my suitcase didn’t arrive at all!
Modern day traveling can really be hard.
Caesar Augustus declared a census be taken for the entire Roman world and everyone under his rule had to comply. That included Joseph who would have to travel to his ancestral home to register.
But he didn’t go alone, he took Mary, his betrothed wife. From Nazareth in Galilee they traveled south to Bethlehem in Judea, just a short distance from Jerusalem.
It was about an eighty-mile trip and Mary was about eight months pregnant.
Although the bible doesn’t mention it, artists often depict her riding on a donkey with Joseph by her side. It seems unlikely that Mary would have walked. Even so, would an eighty-mile donkey ride be an easy thing for a woman in her final stage of pregnancy?
If in December, temperatures would be in the low 40’s at night, and could drop to freezing. Their journey would take several days if they averaged 10 to 15 miles a day, and in Mary’s condition, maybe longer. I wonder, when they stopped for the night, were there places to stay, or did they pitch a tent, cook on a fire and sleep on the ground?
It would be tough for Joseph and miserable for Mary.
They knew they were having a son and that he would be named Jesus. They would have known Micah’s Bethlehem prophecy regarding the Messiah’s birth. Did Joseph realize the time was at hand to get Mary to Bethlehem?
A JOURNEY SOUTH
For us, eighty miles is a short and easy trip. For Joseph and Mary it was difficult and dangerous, and so very necessary. There’s was a determined effort, not just for the census, but for Emanuel’s birth, for he could be born no place else.
His birth was announced by angels, witnessed by shepherds and honored by wise men. The infant Messiah survived King Herod, hid in Egypt, and was later raised in the safety of Galilee. And after all that, when the time came, he would die outside of Jerusalem, just a few miles from his birth place.
They were so young. They were having their first baby and not in their Nazareth home but in a Bethlehem stable. I don’t know what their standard for a successful trip was, but by my standards, it would have been unthinkable. They were brave, strong, and deeply rooted within God’s will.
In this holiday season we owe a debt of gratitude to Mary and Joseph.