Most homes of people who celebrate Christmas will be bustling with last minute preparation activities by now. To many, the significance of Christmas lies in the lights, decorations, harmattan’s chilled winds, food and gifts. It’s a beautiful sight.
But have you stopped to consider the first Christmas? It couldn’t have been interesting like it is now. Imagine we’re playing real time: What do you think will be happening to Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents now?
They must have heard the instruction to go to their hometown for the census. It would not be too convenient for them, bearing it in mind that Mary was about due. But a law must be obeyed, so they had to travel uphill about 6-8 miles from Nazareth, Galilee to Bethlehem, Judea most likely on a donkey. How nice that journey would be! I can imagine a pregnant woman rocking for more than two hours in the cold!
Let’s do some quick arithmetic:
A mile is equivalent to 1.6 kilometers and it takes an adult about 12 minutes to walk a kilometer. So it takes roughly 2 hours 33 minutes to travel 8 miles (12.8 km).
Not a long journey, you say. But think of the stress a 2 and a half hour walk will have on a pregnant woman with an EDD (expected day of delivery) tomorrow! Maybe she was not walking… but a smooth 2 and half hour drive in a car is not the same as Mary rocking on an uneven road on a donkey. It’s not a funny experience.
Have you ridden a horse before? Smooth ride? Hardly. Especially for a pregnant woman. Thank God she counted it a privilege.
It’s 11:30pm – maybe they are almost reaching Bethlehem. No. They would have gotten to Bethlehem by now and heard the worst news of the century: there is no room in the inn!
So they are probably looking for a place to stay. They’ve just walked past a stable when Mary grabs her husband’s tunic and begins to cry “Joseph, Joseph I think the baby’s coming. I’m having contractions now…”
Looking right and spotting a stable at a distance, Joseph shrugs and says, “We’ve got no choice Marie…”
So tomorrow, the Saviour of the world will be born and laid in a MANGER (animal’s feeding trough!), wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Jesus Christ was born into harsh conditions, and this would just begin his journey of obedience which will stretch all the way to the cross.
For you and me.
Back to AD 2013, December 24.
He’s done it. He’s paid the price – gone to the cross and come back with victory: LIFE. That’s why we celebrate Him.
His pain brought Joy to the world. He gives eternal life and peace with God to as many as will accept His offer of life and put their trust in Him. Soon, He’ll come, this time in Glory, to take us with him to meet God in our new home.
Is His Joy active in your heart? Or will you wait till it’s too late? As you celebrate, remember the celebrant.
Tomorrow is the d-day! So, it’s Merry Christmas from me.