In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
Luke 2: 1 – 3
For the majority of us this will be the first Christmas we have ever experienced where the Government has told us where you can and can’t go. In a free society it only ever happens in exceptional circumstances like the one we are living through. But Jesus was born into a world where it was normal for the occupying Government to order people around. And while our restrictions are for our safety and health, the Romans ruled according to their own interests. So if they wanted everyone to return to their home town to register then you’d better well do it, no matter how inconvenient it was for you. They say jump, you say how high. It’s no wonder the people were crying out for something to change.
But this decision meant that Jesus would be born not in Joseph’s current home Nazareth, but in his ancestral home of Bethlehem. This meant that the prophecy that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem would be fulfilled. God was able to use Roman bureaucracy, even with all its unfairness and heavy-handedness, to keep his promises. It’s a reminder that God can work through even imperfect systems in order to bring change and give us hope.
Prayer: Faithful God, thank you that you keep your promises. Help me to see you at work, even in places I might not expect.
Action: Where might God be calling you to make a difference today?