census honeymoon

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. 

Luke 2:1-5

Poor Joseph. No sooner has Mary come back from visiting Elizabeth, the angel told him she was carrying the Messiah & to marry her, which he did, and they have just settled into their new home, than the government calls for a mandatory road trip.

In those days, a census meant you had to travel to your documented ancestral home…in Joseph’s case, Bethlehem, as he was of David’s lineage.

Not going was not an option. 

When the Romans said go, you had to go.  The good news? The Romans had built up the main roads, which likely cut back a bit on the rough terrain. The bad news? Mary was getting close to the end of her pregnancy.

But, duty called.

Not drawing any more attention to themselves than necessary, as they likely knew via the Spirit they would need to keep the coming Messiah safe, they prepared for the long journey.  Joseph would have had to finish his current carpentry jobs, maybe buy a donkey, and Mary prepare the food & bedding they would need.

Now by today’s standards, the distance between Nazareth & Bethlehem, approx. 102-147 kilometers (minimum 63.43 miles) could be driven in a few hours depending on the traffic & speed limit.

A pregnant woman on foot (or more likely donkey, as too much walking could bring on early childbirth, and Joseph seems like a kind man) would need to stop often to relieve herself, so we are guessing they didn’t walk more than 5-10km a day, meaning this was likely a 20-30 day trip.

Not necessarily the honeymoon expected for these newlyweds.

Sleeping outdoors, picnic food, jostle jostle jostle, blisters, bad weather, rough terrain, bugs, potential bandits, traffic…. this was not a fun excursion.

I am sure they had a lot of time to talk about the miracle of John, the prophecies of the Messiah, and how on earth were they going to raise Him?

Its interesting to note that in this book, Luke refers to Mary still as Joseph’s fiancee.  Until the marriage bed is consummated, the marriage was in name only. I am sure Joseph would have felt too funny/uncomfortable about lying with Mary until after the Messiah
was born, which both birth accounts mention slightly differently.

So not only do we learn from these verses that Joseph was married to Mary, he was a caring (considering her physical wellbeing) and honorable man (following his duty) who likely was very concerned about the timing of this trip.

After all, traveling with a very pregnant woman could be filled with the unexpected. Especially one carrying such precious cargo!

To be honest, this narrative also shows me something I suspected earlier. 

The fact that Joseph brought Mary along demonstrates his great love for her. I think he would have missed her too much to leave her behind at home.

There would have been no shame in going on his own for the census.  I believe these two were spiritually knit together by their common experiences with the angel, and daily seeing the baby grow.  Not wanting to spend any time apart, they had already become a close team at this point.

God chose well.

Jesus was in good hands with both His earthly parents.

The #AdventuresinAdvent continue….

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give unto..

Taxes.

Our yearly sweat boiled down into one document submitted to our government, sometimes with tears.

And most of us moan, groan and complain about it.

Yet Jesus took a different tactic:
They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.
“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
“Caesar,” they said.
Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
Their mouths hung open, speechless.
Mark 12:13-17 (MSG)

Much as we grumble and don’t like, most of us, having to pay taxes, the government system was the one we chose. We asked God for kings, and the result is we got what we asked for. People are imperfect, and full of bureaucracy.

But God placed our government, the men and women serving their communities & country. God gave us jobs to help provide for us.

The result? We owe it all to God, the giver of all good things.

And before you wonder, having work is a good thing…just ask someone having a hard time finding a job and making ends meet.

Yet God, through these verses showing us a snippet in the life of Jesus, tells us to pay the government what it is due. And that means taxes: property, municipal and federal.

It also means we need to get it done.

Don’t put it off because you don’t want to put in the work needed, or because you owe money. File on time, figure out how to best pay what you owe if you owe, and plan ahead so you are ready for next year.

If you are fortunate, you get a refund.
Another way God can sometimes surprisingly provide for us.

I have two part time jobs, and recently started doing some freelance from home. I pay tax every pay cheque all year round to the part time jobs, which helps to cover what I might owe for the freelance work. An accountant made that suggestion, which means I would hopefully owe less at income tax time.

There was another time when Jesus made a public point with Peter to pay His taxes:
When they arrived at Capernaum, the tax men came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay taxes?”
Peter said, “Of course.”
But as soon as they were in the house, Jesus confronted him. “Simon, what do you think? When a king levies taxes, who pays—his children or his subjects?”
He answered, “His subjects.”
Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”
Matthew 17:24-27 (MSG)

Jesus made a point, even though He was God’s son, and owns everything, to pay the taxes He owed while He was here on earth. He clearly demonstrated that we are to give those in authority over us what they are due, our taxes.

Whether we like their behavior or not.

Jesus clearly had issues with the religious and political leaders in His day. However, He gave his taxes to both support the temple He went to and the community/country He lived in.

The heart of the matter? Give out of obedience and thankfulness to God, the giver of all we have and are.

Give unto Caesar what is his (our taxes) and give unto God what is His (everything, but especially our praise, worship and gratitude).

Ask Jesus to help us with our finances and spend them as He leads helps us give our money where He has  intends for it to go.

May our attitude be like His.
Without complaint, He gave when He was asked to.

The ultimate sacrifice for us all.

If sin was a tax, it took its toll in full out on Jesus. For me, for you.

And He never complained.
He did it out of love for us.

Now, you may not love your government or paying taxes, but if you love God, we need to leave our complaints aside and pay our taxes out of the great love we have for Him.

For He gave it all.

And He paid for everyone, even the tax collectors or the local politician whom we find embarrassing.

Give to the government what it is due, and give to God all He is due.

Words to remember as our deadline for getting our taxes done draws closer.

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