One of the biggest obstacles in Christmas is there are a lot of  people we want to see and share the season with, but only so much we can control. This can lead to frustration, anger, and even tears. And it’s not just Christmas is it? Christmas just heightens those emotions because there is a certain expectation placed on having a wonderful time at Christmas with people we can’t control, but are somehow involved in our joy. I wanted us take a breath from the Christmas frenzy to think about the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2: 1-7, In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first  registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

A decree in a palace resulted in a birth in a feeding trough. Caesar Augustus sent a decree throughout the Roman Empire that all would be registered. This wasn’t a new thing for Caesar. Money is always tight when you are running an empire. Whether it is looking to expand the military or some public works project, raising taxes starts with taking a census. To accomplish his kingdom ends, Caesar made way for an ancient prophecy to be fulfilled. Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, just as Malachi stated.

Now there are a lot of things in life that you can control, like who you marry, where you live, what job you work, etc. However, there are many things that you have no control over, specifically, where and when you are born. Jesus who is God, the second person of the Trinity, saw fit to be born at a specific time and place. Namely: Bethlehem. He sent out the birth announcement several hundred years before, and then made sure, pre-birth that his parents would be at the right place at the right time.

Now to me, it would have been way easier for God to just choose some descendants of David that lived in Bethlehem. However, perhaps God wanted to show his rule over the cosmos and his ability to affect all things decided a census ordered by the emperor to be the thing that moved the couple he chose to raise the Savior of the world to Bethlehem for a couple years.

In this busy time of wrapping gifts, making meals, having family over, and being completely stressed out over all the preparations and interactions, meditate on the fact that there is One so in control of the world he could set the table for his own birth in a cattle stall, his own horrific death on a cross, and his glorious resurrection from the tomb. Not only that, but he keeps the planets in orbit, stars burning, and breath in your lungs. He is in control when your life isn’t. He has a plan even if part of it is painful. And for those who place their trust in the Christ of Christmas, He is always looking out for His glory and your good.

Chris Plekenpol

Lead Pastor & AHCC Chairman

Author Kayla Hemphill

More posts by Kayla Hemphill

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