Zacharias kept himself busy studying his collection of ancient scrolls. Studying carefully each scroll, Zacharias searched for the prophecies foretelling the birth of the prophesied Messiah-King.
In the dim light of his oil lamp, Zacharias poured over the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Although his heart was pounding, it filled with complete joy upon reading the text that foretold of the birth of the coming Messiah “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Zacharias marveled at the fact that his own relative, Mary, was carrying the promised Child!
He unrolled the scroll further “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace their shall be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and Justice from that time forward, even forever.”
As the hours passed, Zacharias remembered what Joseph had confided in him the night the couple came to visit. When it was discovered that Mary was pregnant, Joseph wanted to save her from public judgment, humiliation or something worse. He explained that while he was planning their escape, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and said “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The next day Elizabeth’s time came to deliver. All the neighbors asked if she was going to name him after his father, but she shook her head no, as Zacharias motioned for a writing tablet and scratched out “His name was John!” He had been mute for nine months but now immediately after writing the child’s name his voice returned.
Six months later, Mary was also getting very close to the birth of her baby. She lived with her mother, father, brother and two sisters. Joseph lived just outside of Nazareth near the main road that led to the Mediterranean Sea. His father was a carpenter who built wagons, carts and repaired broken wheels for a living. The nearby road afforded a steady stream of customers to his shop.
Today, Joseph had promised Mary that he would take her for a wagon ride through the vineyards and olive groves that covered the hills and mountains to the north toward the sea. Joseph was sitting up front on the buckboard with Mary snuggled around a pile of pillows in the back of the wagon. She was eight months pregnant but was willing to endure any discomfort to ride through the beautiful Nazarene countryside. Soon after they left the outskirts of town, they spotted a Roman legion about a half mile away marching towards them. Joseph pulled the wagon off the road into a turn out as the officer in front looked them over and motioned to the centurion to inspect the wagon.
After a thorough inspection, the centurion informed Joseph that Caesar Augustus had decreed that a worldwide census was to be taken. He said they had orders to visit every village in Galilee where they were to post the decree.
The baby kicked Mary as the Roman soldiers filed past them kicking dust into the air. Joseph turned onto a back road and returned home to begin preparations for their trip. They had taken this same trip just six months earlier when visiting Elizabeth and Zacharias. Joseph knew that the trip would be dangerous for Mary and the baby and that he needed to make preparations to get them to Bethlehem before the baby was born.
The next morning, Joseph gathered food and supplies for the trip. Joseph helped Mary get up onto the donkey. Everyone was there to ask God’s blessings on them and to say goodbye. Joseph planned to head south towards Beth Shean, avoiding travel through Samaria. Mary closed her eyes and pondered all these wonderful things; she was carrying the baby who was to be the world’s coming Messiah and future King!
Follow Mary and Joseph in next week’s edition as the couple travels back to Bethlehem to take part in the world wide census.
Follow along with Mary, the mother Jesus, as she endures seventy mile journey to the City of David. All during a time when the crowded roads and cities left few options for Jesus Christ to be born.