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.
Today's Reading: Luke 2:1-5 (NIV)
Luke’s story in this passage seems to contain a lot of mundane information. Augustus was Emperor of Rome. He ordered a census. Because of the census, Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. At the time, this was no big story. Apparently, many people had to make a journey back to Bethlehem just like Joseph and Mary, since there was no place for them to stay when they arrived.
Now if you were Joseph or Mary, or perhaps one of their relatives, this forced trip might feel pretty significant. But you would have known that in the big picture of the day, you were just one of many Jewish families who had to make an inconvenient trip because of some government edict. No big deal.
However, it was no accident that the Emperor of Rome ordered a census that required that Joseph and Mary be in Bethlehem when it came time for her to give birth. Every faithful Jew in that day would have known that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, and that the prophecies promised that He would come from Bethlehem. If the census had not been ordered, Joseph and Mary would never have made the almost 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, especially while she was pregnant. But the Messiah couldn’t be born in Nazareth, so God made sure that something moved them to Bethlehem.
Do you ever wonder how the seemingly ordinary things of your life could possibly make any difference? Or have you found yourself wondering just why that random, inconvenient thing happened? What if we could see the hand of God in the seemingly insignificant events of our lives? How do we know that what seems like an inconvenience isn’t God’s way of putting us just where we need to be, at just the right moment? Who’s to say that your small act of kindness or word of encouragement won’t make a life-changing impact on someone else?
We can rest in the confidence that God is sovereign over all the affairs of mankind, and that nothing we do or don’t do will prevent God from keeping His promises. His Word is true, and He will bring it to pass, even if He has to use a pagan Emperor of Rome or a simple carpenter from Nazareth to make it so. We may feel that we are caught in the mundane routines of life, and that nothing we do really matters. But what we don’t know is how the hidden hand of God is working to use a seemingly insignificant event to bring about an important part of His plan.