Christmas Wasn’t So Merry the First Time Around

Christmas wasn’t so merry the first time around

By Bill Arvan and Sharon Sheppard

It’s hard to imagine how Caesar Augustus ever managed to spread news of his executive order to the whole Roman Empire without Internet access.  And the headline couldn’t have been less welcome:

GOVERNOR TO RAISE TAXES

ALL CITIZENS REQUIRED TO REGISTER IN PERSON

The timing was particularly awkward for a newly engaged couple from Nazareth, since the bride-to-be was nine months pregnant.  The midwife would almost certainly not have given permission for young Mary to make the 80-mile trek on donkeyback, especially if she’d known the couple wouldn’t have a place to stay in the little hick town where they were headed.

As it turned out, a number of factors were grossly inconvenient.  About the only thing that made sense in the whole situation was this:  God was in charge.  And while delivering a baby in a smelly stable might not have been Mary’s choice, God made sure that a prophecy given centuries earlier by the prophet Micah would come true:  “O Bethlehem…, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past!”  (Micah 5:2 TLB)

Despite humble beginnings, there were some classy touches.  God used elegant angels to make the birth announcement, though scruffy shepherds took over from there, spreading the word.

Later He sent by special delivery some expensive, regal gifts by way of the magi.

And when King Herod resorted to desperate measures, ordering the death of all the little boys in the realm in an attempt to kill the child Jesus, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream with special intelligence.  Joseph got up in the middle of the night and took his family to Egypt, where they were safe.

The point is this:  God’s plans are never thwarted.  Sometimes He uses misguided people to accomplish His will.  He used an evil emperor to help fulfill a prophecy about the birthplace of the Messiah, and He foiled the plans of evil King Herod when he tried to do away with God’s son.

The Good News is this:  God loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, in human form.  We deserved to die for our sins, but God’s Son stepped in and said, “I’ll take the rap.”

This is the reason for the season.

 

Excerpted from the READ Report, a publication of READ Ministries, December 2014

 

Merry Christmas from the City Cousin and the Country Cousin!