2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
I cannot imagine the feelings Mary and Joseph experienced as they travelled to Bethlehem. The poor girl was very far along in her pregnancy, and if she was anything like I was, she was at that miserable stage. Everything aching, emotions bouncing around, and patience in short supply. And on top of all of that, she had to make the long journey to Bethlehem to register for the census. It couldn’t possibly get much worse. But it did. Because of the large crowds, there was nowhere for them to stay. I’m sure Joseph had long, consoling, encouraging conversations with his bride.
The young couple were relieved and thankful to be offered the stable as their shelter for the evening. Becoming parents would change Mary and Joseph from simply husband and wife to Mommy and Daddy. What happened in that lowly barn would change the world forever. While the Heavenly Hosts were rejoicing and the shepherds were spreading the news, a new mother and father gazed upon their baby boy. Their precious, perfect infant for whom they had waited, was finally in their arms. While Mary pondered, I wonder what she thought about. Along with the ultimate joy of becoming a mother, was there fear of the future in her heart, as well? Like any new mother, did she long to capture that moment in time and hold on as long as she could? How much more as the mother of the Messiah?