December 19, 2022
“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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”
Imagine it. After nearly 60 miles of rugged dirt roads, Mary and Joseph finally rounded the last corner and paused to overlook the village of Bethlehem.
What was it like for those two moonlit figures? Maybe they stopped just to catch their breath before winding their way down the dark road toward town. Mary, being fully pregnant, was surely relieved to rest for a bit.
Keeping her balance atop a donkey, all those many miles had been exhausting. Perhaps she pressed her hands against her back and straightened, attempting to shift the weight of her Baby off her hips.
The tired couple stepped aside to let a long line of people stream by them, guiding camels and donkeys loaded with supplies. Everyone was arriving for the census. Mary glanced at her husband. They realized that Bethlehem would be crowded.
I like to picture that scene, thinking of Joseph and Mary with such human needs and thoughts. It makes me wonder if Mary – weary, wondering, and uncertain of the path they walked – turned her thoughts toward Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want…
Yea, though I walk through the valley…
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Being from Nazareth, Mary probably did not visit Bethlehem very often. But she knew it was the town of David.
And so, if she were frightened, Mary might have comforted herself by whispering the psalm that David had written to chase away his own fears.
And so, picture it: on that last mile into Bethlehem, Mary looks over the hills and glimpses the campfires of the shepherds – we know they were there because just a short while later, the angels would appear to them, announcing Jesus’ birth.
As she gazed out on the shepherds and sheep, I wonder if she thought of the Great Shepherd who was watching over her? I don’t believe it is a stretch to think that Psalm 23 was Mary’s consolation on that uncertain and difficult night.
Which leads me to ask, what uncertainties and discomforts are you facing this season? Is there something that troubles you?
Remember that the One we’re celebrating is the Great Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd. The Bible calls him the True Shepherd.
And you are his lamb. So let the comfort of his presence be yours this harried, hurried season. Let the 23rd Psalm be the Lord’s personal Christmas message for you.
Pray with me: Jesus, I thank you that you are my Shepherd, leading me, comforting me, and providing for me.
You know all the uncertainty I’m facing and the places where I long for assurance. Help me to know your presence along the hard, rugged path I walk today.
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