Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why Jesus was Born in Bethlehem, and When did Mary and Joseph Get Married?

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 2:1 - 35
  • Psalm 59:1 - 17
Read Bible Passages Online

Luke 2:1 - 35
I knew that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but I didn't know why until today.  Chapter two of Luke tells us that the Roman emperor Augustus ordered a census of all the people, and because of this, everyone had to return to their ancestral towns.  Because Joseph was a descendant of King David, Joseph had to return to David's hometown of Bethlehem.

Joseph took Mary, his fiance, with him (2:5).  I wonder at what point did Joseph and Mary actually marry?  We know, according to this verse, that they were not yet married this late in the pregnancy.  But we also know, according to Matthew 1:24, that Joseph married her before Jesus was born.  Coincidentally, Matthew tells us that Joseph married Mary directly after being visited in a dream by an angel.  So the marriage would have had to take place sometime during the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census.  I wonder if any details on the marriage will be given somewhere else in scripture.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, but were unable to find a place to stay.  Therefore Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was born in the humblest of places -- a manager, clothed only in strips of cloth.

After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were visited by three shepherds.  An angel had visited those shepherds, telling them that the Messiah had been born.  Later, a man named Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  The Holy Spirit then led him to the Temple, where the couple were giving their purification sacrifices to the Lord.  Simeon took the baby Jesus into his arms and praised the Lord.

Both Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit.  Even then it must have been astounding to have people coming out of the woodwork, praising the child.  It even says, in verse 2:33, that Mary and Joseph were amazed at the things said about Jesus.  How would one cope knowing that their child was the Messiah?  I can't even imagine how that would make me feel as a parent.  I also wonder what Jesus was like as a baby, a toddler, and as a child.  Was He wise beyond His years?  How fast did He learn, walk, talk and grow?  Did He get into everything like my three -- requiring the entire house to be toddler proofed?  We know Jesus as a baby, as a man, and as the Messiah, but still I long for a few little glimpses into what he was like when he was young.

Psalm 59:1 - 17
In this Psalm, David calls for protection from the Lord against his enemies.  David's faith is remarkable.  Throughout all his trials and tribulations, he never doubted that the Lord was there.  He might have been desperate at times, but always he returned to the Lord for protection and for vengeance against his enemies.  David's faith was truly remarkable. 

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