Originally published Wednesday, 23 December 2015.
It was just one step after the other, on that long trip to Bethlehem for Joseph and Mary.
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered...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, 4-5
Even as they walked, Mary’s womb swelled with the presence of the eternal Almighty, nearly ready to be brought forth into flesh. Some nine months earlier, Glory had bowed low, trading His place at the Father’s right hand to be fitted inside her womb.
Yes, with a hush, the heir of Heaven had slipped into her womb and into their routine obligations – a Bethlehem trip, included.
Maybe they could’ve avoided the trip altogether. Mary was, after all, about to deliver her baby - a child ushered in by an angelic visits and prophecy. Maybe they could’ve explained their holy situation and received a variance or a waiver? Appealed to someone? Claimed their rights in this obviously special situation?
(A hallowed child or not, no pregnant woman in any century would’ve blamed them for preferring not to travel in her last trimester, on a donkey, in which no accommodations were arranged.)
Yet, Joseph and Mary lived under the rule of a king. Obedience was next to breathing. And so, they packed their bags and started walking.
It was one step after the other.
This Bethlehem trip became just one of many instances, all stringed together, that formed the everyday life and customs of this Jewish couple. Their response to this awe-filling, life-shaking divine plan that included them personally was simply... no major changes at all. Just continued humble living and persistent obedience.
Faithfulness and obedience became their offering to the Most High, laid on the altar of their everyday lives - an offering that fulfilled prophecy and welcomed Glory.
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2
And so, they just kept on keeping on.
It was one step after the other.
And, they carried God in flesh with them on that Bethlehem trip; this young couple must have remembered what the angel had revealed.
Certainly, each little baby kick, each little movement brought a new sense of worship, of fear, of reverence, and echoing angel-words.
Yes, Joseph and Mary knew the divine was among them as they pressed on.
But, Friends, do we?
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Because, Jesus has torn the veil and slipped the fullness of His deity into everyday people on their own Bethlehem trips. Our bodies, too, swell with the presence of the eternal Almighty. He is with us. His name is Immanuel, "God with us."
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” 2 Corinthians 6:16
It’s one step after the other for us, too.
It’s one day’s routine after the other, one conversation after the other, one meeting after the other, one assignment after the other. Here we are, plodding through life and obligations and commitments. And, sometimes, in the midst of this walking by faith, we lose sight of the divine.
But, just as Glory was not reduced when He emerged as an embryo in Mary’s body, neither is the magnitude of His glory diminished as He takes up residence in the souls of believers.
"For in him (Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." Colossians 2:9-10
So, maybe the day-to-day gets painfully long and lacking of fanfare. Yet, may we be assured of the divine among us, within in us - and may we press on. This walk of faith is just one step after the other. Not giant leaps, not extraordinary experiences.
For, this faithfulness in everyday living, this obedience before God – this we bring with open hands and offer on the altar of our lives, not asking for special waivers or attention, but trusting the God who redeems routines for His glory.
And, may we be found expecting – expecting His Glory as we walk our own Bethlehem trips in obedience and faithfulness.