by Pat Northcutt, Life Group Leader

MC Midweek Dec. 7, 2022

It’s that time again, the season of carols and decorations and good will to all men. Once more the well-loved story will be read and nativity scenes set up to remind us of that marvelous night, that holy birth. It’s the nitty gritty details, the activity around the journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth in Luke 2: 1-7 that capture my attention.

First, the command from Caesar that all the (Roman) world should be registered by place of birth, was issued and communicated throughout the empire.

  • How? By messengers.
  • How long did it take to reach every nation/state/city/village in the empire? (Good question.)
  • What was the deadline for response?
  • How far was it from Nazareth to Bethlehem? About 70-90 miles, depending on the route.
  • How long would it take to get to Bethlehem? By foot, 4 to 5 days. (We assume Joseph walked and Mary, heavy with child, rode on a donkey.)
  • Did they camp out or stay in an inn along the way? (We don’t know, but we do know the Good Samaritan took the wounded man to an inn, somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho. It’s possible there were inns along the way where Joseph and Mary could have stayed.)
  • What did they carry with them? – Joseph was a carpenter and had a home where he could bring Mary as his wife. He likely had money for the journey, enough to pay for the sacrifice required after the birth of the child. Mary packed swaddling clothes for the child and maybe another garment for her and Joseph. They likely had a skin of water, some dried figs, perhaps some bread and dried fish.

Scripture doesn’t tell us how long they stayed in the stable, but Matthew 2:11 tells us the Wise Men found the child Jesus (no longer a baby) with his mother Mary when they came to the house. This suggests that Joseph found work in the Bethlehem area, as well as a house for his family, and they stayed there until fleeing to Egypt.

I don’t know about everyone, but I would love to hear angels sing. Do they sound like wind chimes, blowing harmoniously in the wind? Or like a mighty pipe organ when they sing in parts: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass. Or do they sing in ways we can’t imagine? Thank you, Lord, for handling all the details. Yes, we wonder, we stand in awe, we worship and praise you….and one day we will see.