Sunday, December 18, 2011
Google directions from Nazareth to Bethlehem show a route 155 km long, estimated at just less than two driving hours. For our non-metric country, that’s just over 96 miles, close to the distance we used to drive from our home to Beloved Husband’s brother’s house – in just under two hours.
Would Joseph have brought his family along a similar route, staying west of the mountains, roughly following the ancient Via Maris? Or, would they have taken the Ridge Route?
Under adverse conditions, a caravan could achieve ten kilometers a day, and under perfect conditions, about 25. One or two weeks to make a caravan journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, though I believe the caravan in mind would be directed more to Jerusalem, with a smaller group headed to Bethlehem for the census.
How many woman you know would be eager to make that walking, or donkey riding, journey during their last stages of pregnancy?
A week before the celebration of Christ’s birth, think about it. Mary had to have physical strength, as well as character. The months leading up to the birth of her son had not been easy, though they were filled with promise:
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:27-28 KJV)
The word used, παρθένος, means maiden, which by implication meant an unmarried daughter. At that time, and centuries before, that meant a virgin – or possibly death (as it does in some cultures today) if she were not. The equivalent is found in Isaiah 7:14, עלמה.
The angel made a visit to her espoused, too, who loved her enough to put her away instead of putting her to death. Joseph was told:
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:21-23 KJV)
It was here it is confirmed that:
For with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37 KJV)
Jesus knew this, too:
And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:26-27 KJV)
Why place limits on God’s ability? Why not learn, as Paul did:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
First, though, we must understand, as Christ did, that God’s plans are so much better than our own, and submitting to His will achieves what we alone cannot:
And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:35-36 KJV)