“A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed…’”. (Isaiah 40:4 – 5a)
Have you ever thought about the journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem? As I was pondering what to write this month about Christmas, my mind drifted to this passage in Isaiah which is repeated by John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. An earthly king always had his subjects clear the road that he was to travel. It was to be as smooth as possible. Sort of like our roads in Pickens County??
That started me thinking about the journey of Joseph and Mary. Here are just a few facts about their journey:
– It was roughly 80 – 90 miles long;
– They traveled south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem;
– Due to Mary’s condition, they traveled 10 miles a day instead of the usual 20 miles per day;
– The section through the Judean desert would have been difficult with the temperatures in the 30s and during the rainy season;
– Joseph and Mary would have worn heavy clothing to protect themselves from rain and snow;
– The trails were hilly and unpaved; and
– The heavy forested valleys of the Jordan River had lions and bears in addition to bandits and pirates being very common. (“A Long Cold Road to Bethlehem” – Religion News Service)
How many of us would have just turned around and gone home? Since it was a royal decree to go to their ancestral home, Joseph and Mary had to comply. In other words, not only was Jesus’ birthplace a cave or commonplace for animals, his journey to his family’s home was not pleasant either. Jesus, the heavenly king, did not have the road paved, lowered, or leveled to make the journey easier for his parents and him.
However, one thing did happen on that special night of his birth, the glory of the Lord was revealed. It was celebrated by angels, shepherds, and eventually oriental kings. This Christmas let us not complain about all the trimmings of the season, but recognize Jesus as the only reason why Christmas exists.