The celebration of Christmas is past, but we can celebrate Jesus’ birth throughout the year. And the upcoming census-taking of America is a good reminder of how the Roman census played such a part in His life after His birth in Bethlehem.
Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair
Once again, we face a census of America’s population. Already citizens are urged to sign on as census takers. For some it means knocking at city doors. For others, the job can be arduous, requiring travel through areas filled with danger—or dissenters. At any rate, every ten years we are all counted for the sake of determining new or changed political boundaries, housing availability, military service plans and the ages and sex of residents. Results are not accurate, depending on a person’s concern about privacy and bias. However, countless decisions are made by our government, businesses and educational systems to better serve the nation. Or to take advantage of people or organizations, depending on one’s viewpoint or aims.
Census taking began thousands of years ago. King David, for instance, called for a census to determine how many young men were available to fight against the enemies of that time. They continued throughout history. The major census taken when Jesus was born, directed by Roman governor Quirinius immediately following King Herod’s death, was organized to facilitate the collection of taxes.
Following Jewish custom, the registration took place at a person’s ancestral home. That meant Joseph and Mary had to travel from the town of Nazareth to Bethlehem, a trip of about ninety miles requiring three days by foot and beast of burden. And burdensome it was for the couple, as Mary was ready to deliver a baby. They made it as far as an inn.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) Such a humble beginning for baby Jesus, our King of Kings! Yet God saw to it that He would be honored right from birth by leading simple, humble shepherds to His birth crib, a cattle’s manger. And He sent a whole choir of singing, praising angels to shine their dazzling light upon the babe.
What a beginning! Mary faced discomfort and agony, but she also had God’s earlier assurance that He would give her the best gift of all, His only Son. And like Mary, we can be assured that God will turn our humble circumstances, no matter how painful or hopeless, into scenes of joy and beauty.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Lord, thank You for counting us in Your eternal census. Thank You also for humble beginnings that give us cause to thank and praise You for the joy You will bring out of them. In Jesus’ name, amen.