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The Roads Best Travelled 16: The Road to Bethlehem


Issue 253

Based on Luke 2:1-7

The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem is around eighty miles long or probably ten days’ journey by foot. This particular journey, ordered by the Roman Governor, was made so that tax raising data could be gathered.

But this eighty mile trip was the last leg of a journey which began in eternity past. Before Nazareth, Bethlehem or Rome existed, God the Son had decided that he would do whatever it took to rescue the children of humans from self destruction. It is worth thinking about this journey for a moment because it gives us an insight into the Bethlehem road.

Firstly, it was very difficult. Joseph, Mary and friends travelled under unpleasant conditions – but when you are nine months pregnant you would not get any travel insurance to embark on an eighty mile donkey trek. This was painful, exhausting and demanding.

It certainly interrupted their plans. They would have been planning a Nazareth birth.

But this journey was not about them, it was about the fact that God the Son had decided to be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. It was about the fact that God the Son was coming to the rescue – having heard the cries of the stressed, strained and struggling.

But for this journey the mighty God was totally dependent on a hybrid beast, an exhausted young woman, and a somewhat bewildered young man. And this is the lesson of the Bethlehem road. God wants to show himself. He wants to rescue and revolutionise lives, andhe wants to arrive. But to do this he makes himself dependent. The last leg of the journey is still entrusted to exhausted, bewildered humans and their various means of transport.

When you go to your place of work you are entrusted with the last leg of an eternal journey. This Christmas the Son of God again wants you to help him arrive – fresh, new, challenging and attractive – at a place where you can take him and no-one else can.

The task is exhausting still, inconvenient still, interrupts your plans still, and is still exhilarating at the end. You may feel like Mary, Joseph or even the donkey but Jesus trusts himself to you to get him there – this is why he is called Immanuel – God with us.He has arrived,,hHe is arriving and he will arrive. He still entrusts the arrivals into your fearful hands – Christmas is coming.


Luke 2:1-7

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

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Series: The Roads Best Travelled
Module: 7
Season: Advent
Daily Guide: No

Tags: dependance, struggle, trust, vulnerability

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Geoff Shattock

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