In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7, NIV)
Bethlehem is a city of kings—two kings of Israel. It was the original City of David because it was David’s birthplace. The Book of Luke reminds us also that it was still known as the “town of David” in Jesus’ time. For this reason, as descendants of the royal house, Joseph and Mary made the journey there to register in Caesar Augustus’ Roman census.
When they arrived, they found it so crowded that accommodations were scarce. Today, tourists now fill the town and crowd the church built over the cave believed to be the one place the holy family was able to find lodging. As we prepare to experience Bethlehem, consider both the obscurity of Jesus’ arrival into a chaotic and displaced situation, and the perfection of his arrival in the “fullness” of time (Galatians 4:4).
Things are not always as they seem. Often God appears to us to get it wrong, acting inexplicably in our world when, in fact, his divine precision has prevailed with amazing power and grace.
Trusting God’s timing is a challenge, but remember that blessing the world on time has always been God’s plan (Ephesians 1:3-10)!