‘Twas the Night Before
If ever there was an opportunity for God to enact his plan with a majestic flourish, it was at Jesus’ birth. But God did not presume upon humanity when he stepped in to redeem it. There was no pretense in this arrival. Rather, God chose to identify in the most humble way with those made in his image. The story of Jesus’ birth in Luke mixes praise with simplicity. We pick up the story about nine months from where we last left it. It ‘Twas the Night before.
Luke 2:1-7 (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
What must this night have been like for Mary? Not only was she expecting, but she was carrying the Messiah? She must have thought: I can’t mess this up. This must be a perfect night, with the perfect room. Everything must be in place.
This story, the night before Jesus’s birth, offers quite a contrast to the birth of John the Baptist. It is truly remarkable. John’s birth was announced in the capital, at the temple, in the center of the Jewish nation. But Jesus, the son of God, arrives in rural anonymity. John is the child of a priest and his righteous wife; Jesus belongs to Jews of average social status.
The backdrop of the story that leads us to the night before his birth is that of a census. This regional census leads Joseph and Mary, to the city of David, better known as the hamlet of Bethlehem. That Bethlehem is the town of David indicates the birth’s connection to promise.
The trip was not an easy one for them to make under even normal circumstances. Add to this the fact that Mary was expecting…. it was even more difficult. Nazareth to Bethlehem was about a 90 mile trip, assuming that Samaria was bypassed. Such a journey would have taken around three days.
They were tired and probably weary from the long journey. They arrive in Bethlehem late at night feeling exhausted and ready to rest from the road.
In those days, they did not have the benefit of Hotels.com or Priceline to reserve a room. They would have to trust that lodging would be available for them. Little did they know that this was the night before the event that all of creation had been longing for.
Twas the night before their Savior’s birth.
Pastor Jerron Carney and his wife, Holly, were elected senior pastor of Woodlawn in 2013. Prior to their election, Pastor Jerron served Woodlawn, since 2005, in student ministry and administrative pastor. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, School of Business with an emphasis in accounting. He is the proud father of Jane-Claire, Jack, & Everly June. They are his greatest source of joy. He enjoys the outdoors through hunting and golf… Go Saints!