Day 29: Responding to the Decree

Luke 2:1-5 :

Now it happened in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.

I’d like to take a moment to think about Joseph today. Not much is spoken about him here, but it is interesting to think about Joseph’s faith because it was evident in his daily actions. Joseph was an example to husbands in that he took a love role in his family in spite of his own self image.

Joseph’s life suddenly changed in an unexpected way, just like Mary’s, in that suddenly his wife-to-be got pregnant. We learn from other accounts that Joseph was also visited by an angel and asked to respond in faith to God. Like Mary, he also obeyed the Lord and took Mary to be his wife, but we learn here that she was pregnant while she was still pledged. I can’t help but think that this changed Joseph’s life a lot.

This provided an opportunity for ignorant and faithless people to slander them. Even though it doesn’t say it here, I wouldn’t be surprised if it affected Joseph’s business. You could say that the whole world came apart when Jesus came to them, but we learn from Mary that they were excited about being used of God in such an amazing way. This is very similar to becoming a Christian.

When we believe in Jesus, we are happy to learn about our new freedom from sin and guilt and to know about our relationship with our Creator, Jesus who resurrected from the dead. It’s so great that we’re eager to serve Him. In worldly ways, becoming a Christian can bring trouble because the world’s system is against us. We may lose some friends and we may even lose some business. Most likely, some who hear this have lost everything because their culture doesn’t allow belief in Christ.

It is important to obey Christ even if it goes against the government, but it is also important that we do whatever we can not offend the government, and to do what they ask as unto the Lord Himself, whenever they are not making a demand against God. Notice that Mary and Joseph took this trip at a difficult time for them. It might have been embarrassing to go back to their home town and face relatives in the situation that they were in. Often, though, it is our family that seeks to understand and help us during a difficult time.

To say that God is a genius is to bring Him down. He is the One who is above all genius and we can sense a little bit of this when we think about this event. A prophesy in the Bible stated that the Messiah would have to be born in Bethlehem, the City of David. Even though the government chose to do “enrollment” at this time, it was God who controlled the government. Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem. Not only that, we read here that Joseph was in the lineage of David. This was another prophesy that had to be fulfilled by the Messiah. Joseph’s travel to his home town makes this detail obvious.

We may think that the government is “out of control”, but this passage shows us that it is in times like these that God is leading the government by the nose. As we read when we went through the book of Galatians, God will not be mocked, but God will humiliate people if he needs to. It is wise for us to humble ourselves and serve God and our government for the sake of Jesus as we live in the joy that He gives us.