Dec. 18, 2012
In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. – Luke 2:1-2
The author of Luke’s gospel sets the timetable for us. Caesar was the head-honcho of Roman Government. He ruled for about 33 years. We have a clearer understanding of when Jesus was born because we’re also told it was while Quirinius was in power.
Apparently, Caesar felt the Roman government was having a cash flow problem. Caesar loved to build and he needed more money. One way to get cash would be to demand a census. As people were counted, additional taxes could be assessed.
The edict went out that every man had to return to the town of his ancestors. Joseph’s family comes from the line of King David. King David’s hometown is Bethlehem. Joseph is in Nazareth with Mary. Mary is very pregnant but Caesar didn’t care that she would have to withstand a 10-day journey being nine months pregnant. So, off Mary and Joseph go.
Didn’t God realize this journey would be terribly difficult for Mary? Why didn’t God just let the baby be born in Nazareth? Could have God changed Caesar’s mind and have him delay the census? Yes, God could have done any of these things. Instead, God took the situation of Caesar’s desire for more money and used it to God’s advantage so that Joseph could be born in David’s city.
At the time, I would guess Mary and Joseph were exasperated that they were going to have to make this long journey. Once again, we see where God has a much broader and wider understanding of God’s kingdom. We see God using the situation at hand (Caesar’s desire for taxes) as an opportunity to God’s prophecy to be fulfilled. Quite ingenious, isn’t God? With God, all things are possible. Amen.
Lord God – When difficulties loom before us, it is so easy to get anxious and frustrated and distracted. But in those moments, remind us Lord God that you can work through even seemingly ridiculous situations. If you can turn a census into an opportunity to fulfill prophecy, we can’t image what you could do with our lives. Amen.