…Continued from Part 1
I was very near my due date when Caesar Augustus ordered that a census be taken. This meant that everyone needed to return to the place where they had been born in order to be counted. For Joseph and me that meant a 60 mile journey to Bethlehem since we were both of the tribe of Judah and descendants of David.
Joseph is from the royal line of David’s son Solomon. This was also the line that God had cursed right before the Babylonian captivity due to their evil and rebelliousness. God said that no son of their line would ever reign over Israel again (Jer. 22:28-30). So, like every other living descendant of Solomon’s, Joseph carried the curse that disqualified him and all of his biological offspring from ever being Israel’s King.
I also descended from David, but through his son Nathan. Nathan’s line wasn’t cursed, but his descendants weren’t qualified to be King, either.
Me giving birth to Jesus made him a biological descendant of David’s. And as Joseph’s adopted son, He was in line to be Israel’s King but didn’t carry the blood curse. We found out later that Jesus is the only man born into this world since 600BC who is legally qualified to serve as Israel’s King, and it’s only because he has no earthly father! So this is how God kept the promise He made to King David that someone from his line would reign over Israel forever, despite the fact Solomon’s royal line was cursed by God 400 years later. The virgin birth is the only way any descendant of David’s could ever be qualified to rule as King of Israel.
Anyways, while Joseph and I were in Bethlehem I went into labor. The city was so crowded with people who had also traveled from afar to be counted, so all of the guest rooms were occupied. There was only one small Inn, but that too was completely occupied. The only place Joseph could find for us was a livestock shelter. And it was here that I gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God, my Savior and Redeemer.
Labor and delivery were by no means easy, but with Joseph’s support and God’s strength, I gave birth to my first-born son. When I held Him in my arms I was so keenly aware that one day He would deliver me. This was my first-born child. But more than that… this was the Messiah that my people had been waiting for… longing for. I felt so humbled to be His mother. At the same time, I trembled at the thought of this great responsibility before me. How was I- a mere girl- to raise the Son of God?
Having brought very little with us on our journey to Bethlehem, all we found to wrap the newborn King in were swaddling cloths. These were the worn-out linen garments from the Temple priests. Usually they were used to make wicks for the huge menorah candles that lit up the Temple and ultimately the whole city. Some said these candles were so bright they lit up the whole world. It seems fitting that my baby, the Light of the world, would be wrapped in these very garments.
After laying Jesus in a feeding trough to sleep peacefully, I too laid down to rest. It wasn’t long until my son had his first visitors. To be honest, I was surprised that my Lord would first announce the birth of His Son to shepherds, of all people. You see, these shepherds had an important job of protecting and caring for the sheep that would be purchased and then sacrificed in the Temple, but they were looked down upon in our society. They were usually quite dirty and smelly and because they were poor, they weren’t known for being very honest men. Yet, here they were, standing before Joseph, Jesus, and me… awestruck. Merely looking into the face of my sleeping infant caused these men to well up with immense joy. Despite how tired I was, I too could not help but smile. The Messiah had come and was living and breathing right before my eyes. I had kissed the face of God… what a miracle… how incredible!
The shepherds left us, praising and glorifying God for all to hear. They spread the news to all who would listen that God had finally fulfilled His promise to send a Redeemer. We were visited by many people in the days to follow. Some were curious, others skeptical, some mocked us, and still others rejoiced at the news.
After several months, we were visited by some very intriguing guests. They had traveled the farthest of anybody and seemed to know a great deal about the King of the Jews, as they called him. By this time Jesus had begun walking and forming words clumsily. The Magi explained that they had followed a star all the way to Bethlehem, knowing it would lead them to Jesus. They presented my son with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, saying that these gifts had been saved from one generation to the next generation since the prophet Daniel. We would soon find out the incredible sovereignty of God’s provision through the receiving of these gifts.
Joseph had another dream in which an angel warned him of evil King Herod’s plot to search for Jesus and kill him. When he awoke in the night, we immediately gathered what little we possessed and escaped to Egypt. Without the wise men’s gifts, we could never have afforded this journey. My heart wept for all the infants and toddlers massacred in the following days after our departure. It was one more reminder of how much our corrupt and depraved world needed a Savior.
So that is my version of what took place over 2000 years ago, when God showed His love for humanity by becoming one of us- being born to die for the sins of the world. I no more deserved His grace than any of you.
My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.1