The Journey to Bethlehem

Scripture: Luke 2:1-5

Soon after Joseph and Mary were married in Nazareth, Caesar Augustus commanded that all people throughout the lands of the Roman empire return to the towns from which their families had originated to have their names registered, or taxed. The emperor wanted a list to be made of all the people under his rule. Since both Mary and Joseph had come from the family of David, the king, they went together from Nazareth to Bethlehem to have their names registered.

Historians have noted that to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in Judea could have taken five or more days. Mary, riding on a donkey, and Joseph traveled down the mountains to the river Jordan, following the river almost to its end, and then climbing the mountains to the town of Bethlehem. Joseph already knew that Mary’s coming child was destined to be the King of Israel as prophesized in the Old Testament.

Let us imagine the scene around 6-5 B.C. – an unpaved trail, travelers wearing leather sandals and woolen garments, an expectant mother nearing delivery, wild animals roaming the forests and the threat of outlaws, no warm lodging or medical care available. Thankfully, even though it was winter, it was not the coldest month of the year.


Heavenly Father, today we are reminded of the brave couple, Joseph and Mary, and their long journey to Bethlehem. As we prepare for our family celebrations, we reflect on the trials of the journey and its impact on our faith, and we give thanks for the strength of the early Christians. In thy name we pray. Amen.

About the Contributor:

Sally Dover is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian, is currently an Elder, and is an educator.