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. – Luke 2:1-7
The tiny town of Bethlehem was bursting at its seams with people and activity. The census represented a disruption to the lives of the Israelites and, no doubt, resulted in more than a little ill will as Rome’s thumb pressed down even harder on an already oppressed people.
Travelers were probably focused on inconvenience – the homes and livestock and businesses left behind, the uncomfortable trip and less-than-four-star accommodations. Children would have teetered in that miserable no-man’s land between exhaustion and restlessness. Mothers would have been spent, fathers tense.
The crowds. The noise. The nerve of it all.
Surely some noticed the young woman clutching her belly in pain as she and her future husband went door to door in search of shelter. Perhaps even the gossip surrounding her untimely pregnancy preceded her arrival. “Serves her right,” some might have whispered when she was finally relegated to a stable.
They might have been aware the woman gave birth. But they were probably unaware of any excitement surrounding the delivery. A few shepherds would go unnoticed. The town was a hub of excitement already.
They missed the star. They missed the miracle. They missed the Child.
An illusionist – and Satan is a master – causes us to look away so we miss what’s really happening. He had the people so caught up in politics that they looked past the fulfillment of prophecy. They remained ignorant that God had finally sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.
Satan continues to distract us today. He causes us to look one way so we miss the greater thing that God is doing in our lives. We focus on inconveniences, family tensions, politics and day-to-day needs to the extent we are blinded to spiritual realities.
We become like Martha, who was so stressed out about preparing dinner for Jesus that she missed the opportunity to feast upon Jesus’ words.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
Between shopping, parties, baking and family gatherings, Christmas season becomes a frenzied test of endurance for many of us. But this Christmas I challenge you: Don’t miss the miracle in the stable. Take time to behold the Child whose advent rocks all eternity.
Merry Christmas, my friends.