“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.” (Luke 2:1-5)
You’ve probably had people make promises to you, and most of us have experienced the disappointment of having someone break one of those promises. Now, imagine if someone made you thousands of promises and kept all of them! That is exactly what God does throughout the Bible. While God makes and keeps all His promises, there is no more important promise than God’s promise of His own Son, Jesus, coming to earth. We read about how this promise is kept in Luke 2, but the Christmas story started much, much earlier. In fact, the Christmas story is written throughout the entire Bible. All of the stories we’ve read throughout the Advent season point to this one.
We see God make the promise of Jesus to Abraham in the very first book of the Bible, and again to David, who was told that God’s Son would be a descendant of David’s own family. God also used prophets, like Isaiah and Micah, to tell of the coming Messiah, and back in Micah 5, it was prophesied that the Savior of the world would be born in Bethlehem.
But wait…Mary and Joseph didn’t live in Bethlehem. They lived in Nazareth, which was nearly 100 miles away from Bethlehem. There was no reason for them to leave Nazareth, especially with Mary being pregnant. How was God going to keep all His promises, including this promise about Jesus’s birthplace?
As you’ve seen, God always has a plan. At this point in history, the land of Israel was ruled by the Roman Empire. Caesar Augustus, the ruler of Rome at the time, declared that everyone living in the empire should travel back to their hometowns and be counted. This meant that Mary and Joseph would need to take the long journey to Joseph’s hometown of…can you guess? That’s right! Bethlehem!
Shortly after Mary and Joseph arrived in the city of Bethlehem, all of creation held its breath to see God’s greatest promise kept in the birth of Jesus.
When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, there was no room or bed for them, only a stable with a manger as a crib. Draw a picture of the manger Jesus was laid in on today’s ornament. As a family, brainstorm all of the different gifts God has given you this past year. See who can think of the most! Be sure to pray and thank God for all of these gifts, especially the gift of His Son.