Advent: December 23rd – An Obedient Journey

By: CJ Phillips, Licensed Local Minister

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” –Oswald Chambers

Mary shifted her weight uncomfortably. She had been riding for hours. Just ahead, Joseph walked steadily onward, leading the way along the path toward distant Bethlehem. Suddenly… Mary felt the stirring of life within her once again.

Mary and Joseph were setting out on their journey towards Bethlehem for the royal census (Luke 2:1). What was most likely a grueling, four to five-day journey, was probably anything but restful. I’m sure Mary must have found herself in increasing discomfort.

I can imagine what Joseph must be thinking along the way, “Why was the decree issued now?” “Should I have left Mary at home to be with her family?” “Why did she want to come with me?” “Was this a bad idea?”

Yet, here they are, traveling on their journey to Bethlehem.

Every year around this time, I find myself asking similar questions. After the car is packed, the presents are wrapped, and the kids are loaded in the backseat, we begin our journey home to spend time with family and friends during the holiday season. But, without fail, there are various obstacles and challenges that arise that we must overcome to, with any luck, enjoy a peaceful and relaxing time with loved ones. Just like with Mary and Joseph, sometimes the Christmas journey doesn’t seem quite worth it.

But there is more to this ancient journey than meets the eye, for they knew where they had to go, and they knew how to get there, but perhaps they did not know the true reason why they had to go. What they thought was a journey prompted by a census, actually led to an amazing story of obedience and faith that can still speak to us today. By heading out on this journey, they were obedient to Caesar, obedient to one another, and, most of all, obedient to the LORD.

What motivated Mary and Joseph to obey? Did they know of the prophecy that said Bethlehem was to be the birthplace of Jesus? The Bible does not say. We cannot rule out the possibility, for the fact was evidently common knowledge among religious leaders and most people in general (Matt. 2:1-7; John 7:40-42).

At any rate, whether their decision to travel was based upon a secular decree or Christ’s own prophecy—or because of a combination of factors—they set a splendid example. Perhaps they did not know why they were being led to Bethlehem, but they knew that they must go.

May we have the same obedience as Mary and Joseph, to follow God wherever He may lead.

Parents: Invite your family to spend time this Advent season, sharing examples of times when they had to be obedient. Explain the importance of being obedient to Christ.

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