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.
(Luke 2:4–5, ESV)
Jesus’s birth offers a promised certainty in the midst of our doubtful times. We’ve all had to face the sudden and long-lasting impact of COVID-19. Culture has been rightfully challenged through elevated conversations about race, yet we are more divided than ever. Our politics, economics, and society appear dubious and unstable. Personally, we might have experienced troubles related to health, finances, or family.
But Luke’s Christmas story calls us to pause and deepen our assurance in a credible and stable truth. Luke began the Christmas story with Joseph and Mary on the move to Bethlehem in response to the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. Yet, for Luke, this was not just about a census. It was about setting a place, Bethlehem, to further affirm that Mary’s Child represented God’s salvific plan for all humankind.
Within his writings, Luke highlighted Jesus’s lineage and birthplace. For instance, in Luke 1:32–33 the angel Gabriel announced Mary’s child would be given the throne of His ancestor David and reign forever, a fulfillment expression of 2 Samuel 7:12–16. Luke introduced Joseph as from the “house of David” in verse 1:27, and in Luke 2:3–4 we see Luke mention Joseph’s travel to Bethlehem with Mary because he was of the “house and lineage of David.” Luke purposefully began the Christmas story by specifically locating the scene in Bethlehem, the expected birthplace of “the ruler” according to Micah 5:2. In all this, Luke firmly anchored Jesus in the house and line of David, securing Him, our Savior, as the One predicted to fulfill God’s redemptive promises to His people.
All the world may rattle around us, and our lives might on occasion be shaken. But, as we near Christmas, let us be mindful how Luke initiated our invitation into the Christmas story. Joseph and Mary’s census journey furthers our certainty that the One born in Bethlehem is undeniably our promised Savior, a steady truth to embrace no matter the times.