Experience Christmas is a 19-day devotional series based on the Scriptural narrative and aimed at creating space during a beautiful, but hectic time of year to wonder at the miracle of Christmas. You’re joining us on day nine, with music from Sarah McLachlan and a brief look at prophecies Jesus fulfilled.
Stepping into their calling as expectant parents and facing their friends and family as a united front, Mary and Joseph, along with the entire Roman world are required to register for a census. Preparations are made for the nearly 70-mile journey from Nazareth to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem in Judea, knowing it will inevitably be the birthplace of their Child.
Scripture is silent about the actual events of Mary and Joseph’s travels and opts for a more A to B approach of telling this part of their story. We don’t know the exact route they took, if Mary was in her second or third trimester, or how and with whom they traveled. We don’t know where they stayed when they got there, or how long they were left waiting to welcome Messiah into the world.
What we can assume with confidence is that this trip was neither convenient nor easy.
Traveling on foot or by donkey, for any distance, at any stage of pregnancy would be absolutely h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e, and I am certain Mary broke every travel restriction known to expectant moms today. Picture Mary exhausted and swollen, with every muscle screaming in protest, and Joseph watching in concern at every quiet grimace, helpless to make anything different for her.
Still, this journey is part of God’s plan.
Some 700 years prior, the prophet Micah predicted Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Here, Mary and Joseph, moved by the hand of Rome, are making way for the fulfillment of that prophecy.
Micah 5:2 (NIV)
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
At just the right time, God orchestrated the everyday events of history to proclaim the coming of His Son.
Centuries before, God told Israel who was coming and how He’d come, down to even the smallest of details. Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is only one of many Messianic prophecies Jesus fulfills, leaving us, generations and generations from that moment in time, with the confidence we need to believe in the truth of His coming.
These are the kind of details that cause me to marvel at the incredible lengths God took, not only to save the world, but to make sure we could trust this message with confidence today.
For Further Reading
There is so much that has been written on the historicity of Jesus, and His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. This post merely scratches the surface. For more information, start with the following resources:
- 44 Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled, Mary Fairchild
- Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus’ Life
- The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel
- The Case for Christmas, Lee Strobel
- How do faith and intellect intersect in your life?
- What do the fulfilled prophecies of Christ tell you about the reliability of the Christmas story?
- What does God’s hand in history mean for you and your story?
Pray that God would help you understand the historicity and significance of His big picture planning that led to the birth of His Son.
God thank you that you are a God who engages our hearts and our minds. You have never asked us to check our brains at the door of faith, but invite us to engage with the truth of your Word. Thank you for sending Your Son to earth, and for giving us sufficient reasons to trust Him.
For a complete list of devotional posts visit the Experience Christmas series page. Sign up to receive posts directly via email by completing the online subscription form and join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #ExperienceChristmasDevotional.