There are so many lessons to be learned, so many mysteries to be revealed in the story of the First Christmas Night…we will only review a portion of what is available to discover…
The parents: Luke 1:26-35: were between 13-15 years old (grasp that for a moment). God knew Mary’s heart and this is why He chose her: Luke 1:38, Luke 1:46-47: nowhere from that day forth do Scriptures show any turning back or remorse for her decision; history literally shows how she was regarded in her time. She was shunned, disowned, looked down upon, ridiculed…Mary’s sufferings in society, her devotion to God were real and beautiful; she completely gave up her future, her dreams, her life (in pure love and gratitude) for whatever God had in store (and at this point she had no idea). Do we have this mentality? (Side note 1: young people: this is proof you are not exempt because of your age: the most important job given to any human was given to a 13 year old girl) When are you going to start living for Him. (Side note 2: if you ever wondered is abortion is a free choice for the mother or not—and whether life really starts at conception—when Jesus left His place on His Throne in Heaven and entered into Mary’s womb, did He cease to exist until He was born? Hebrews 7:13, Luke1:42-44). Matthew 1:18- betrothed meant Mary was pretty much legally married- they just hadn’t consummated the marriage; the groom would live apart for about a year preparing, before taking residence together and completing the relationship (a divorce was required to end the union at this stage). This was the utmost disgrace to Joseph—as far as he knew, his bride had been in an adulterous affair and betrayed him and began making crazy claims that ‘it was a miracle from God’. Even though he seemingly was betrayed and lied to by his bride (he could’ve demanded her life), Matthew 1:19-21, 24-25: he took on Mary’s shame and isolation as his own; he gave up his future plans and hopes in society. Everything they were doing for God was to be unseen and unappreciated by everyone around them in their time. (Side note 3: we would all be better off if we were willing to stop worrying about the world outside and what they think, and about our reputations within the Christian community, and be unnoticed, have less glory, just to do what God asks of us—at all costs, no matter the appreciation, no thoughts on whether you seem best at it or not—just serve in love, for His Glory). We can see the wisdom of God in choosing two young, inexperienced, uneducated, unsuccessful kids as the parents of Jesus, because everything that makes a man or woman successful is in their ability to love others first, to be humble and self-sacrificing, and their desire to please God; anything else can be taught or given by God as needed. Mary and Joseph are living in a time when the Hebrew people have been under the rule of foreign countries for over 600 years; there has been no Hebrew on the Throne for a long time, but the Promise to place an eternal Ruler on the Throne from the lineage of David still stands; Isaiah 9:6-7: not only does this promise mention David as an ancestor for the Messiah, but many different verses from many different times and authors (ranging from 700-2000BC) give specific people that the Messiah’s heritage must run through to fulfill prophecy. All of these writings are proven in secular history; and paint a very distinct and narrow path for the coming Messiah’s lineage: Genesis 21:12, 22:18, 49:10, Number 24:17, Isaiah 11:10, Jeremiah 23:5: a clear family tree through which Jesus much be traceable in order to fulfill His prophetic role as Eternal King and Messiah. Matthew 1:1-17 gives the entire lineage (blood link to the throne of David) of Mary (back to Abraham); Luke 3:23-38 (back to Adam) gives Joseph’s lineage (legal link to the throne of David); therefore both parents show Jesus’ blood and legal rights to the Throne of David (uncontrollable by Jesus) (Side note 4: the record of the census, along with the registration of Joseph and Mary could be found in official documents from the reign of Augustus Caesar).
The place: Matthew 5:2: ancient Scriptures told exactly where Jesus was to be born: proof that Bethlehem is where Mary and Joseph ended up at the time of birth. This is accepted by generations that had access to this information, including Jesus’ enemies (Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin)—who would’ve used any legal evidence they could against Jesus’ claim as Messiah. If Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem on their own accord, it would have been logical to think it was self-fulfilled prophecy; but Rome called for everyone to go to their hometowns for a census, placing positive proof of why, where and when the couple had to be at Bethlehem in history. (Summary: hundreds of years of prophecies from multiple prophets give an exact lineage for the coming Messiah’s family tree, and an exact place of birth; both are verifiable through local records of the hostile government and unchallenged by the local religious and civil leaders with access to these records).
The journey: from Nazareth to Bethlehem journey would have been about 90 or so miles in distance (SE Jordan Valley to Jericho, up a mountain to Bethlehem), taking the most probable route of the day to avoid Samaria. At a normal walking pace of about three miles an hour, a traveler covering 17 miles a day would take about 5 days, with the last leg of the journey being a hike uphill of 3500ft. Joseph was probably the only one that had to be in Bethlehem for the Census information—why would he take a very pregnant wife on such a journey? Speculations: 1) Mary was seen as a social reject, and probably didn’t want to be anywhere else but in the safety and comfort of her husband’s company 2) she was very close to giving birth, and surely Joseph didn’t want to miss the birth. And whether they had to stay in a cave behind an Inn (as some believe), or in a stable or cave of a relative’s home, there were family members in Bethlehem… why couldn’t they have a room for birthing? Why wasn’t anyone there to help this poor young couple on that night? Scriptures describing Jesus’ birth tell of no one to help them in birth, no one to help wrap or care for the new Babe when He arrived—probably because of the shame and stigma this couple carried for conceiving a Baby before the proper time in such a culture. Remember, they hadn’t seen nor heard anything else from God (as far as we know) since the Angels visited in the beginning. They were two very real, normal, rejected, scared young people; don’t you think they may have had times of worry or doubt? (Alone, filthy, smelly, poor, far from home, about to have a Baby with no help or care from anyone). Could Mary have wondered if she angered God? If He had changed His mind? Could Joseph have ever wondered that maybe the dream was his own desire to believe Mary? Especially with no help or hope, no supernatural proof this was of God, no Angels, no grand entrance…nothing. No worries or doubts ever made them give up on their God because there is no recorded complaint or regret. The entire moment seemed a dismal failure, without hint of reason or rhyme as to why at the time, but now looking back at God’s Grand Design—how Awesome! Shortly after this young couple held on through their darkest moments, a strange group of men, shepherds came to them, with the greatest, most astounding news they had probably heard sine it all began. God revealed His Plan to these men, and they were here to see the Messiah (those rough-looking men were probably the sweetest sight Mary & Joseph had in months- and no one had been so happy to see the outcast couple in months, either). This small group of social rejects (probably all smelly and dirty) huddled together in an animal stable celebrated the coming of the King to save the Lord—things aren’t always what they seem, are they?
Are you trusting Him in your stable, even though you feel like nobody, and you feel you haven’t heard from Him in so long? He’s still working, His Plan, His intentions, will come through in all their Glory, if we just hold on through the silent night…