It seems simple—afterwards.
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. (Luke 2:4)
“Went up from” this town to that town. Easy enough.
Except it wasn’t.
Just this little detail in the story of Jesus’ birth was a massive to-do. First of all, “went up” doesn’t mean North. It means up. Like up the hills around Jerusalem. And without the assistance of a car or truck. They were on foot (and donkey) for the whole of their 90 mile trip! A trip that we guess took 5-7 days, depending on how aggressive Joseph and Mary were, given that Mary was 9 months pregnant.
We read the words 2,000 years later but we don’t understand the journey. Imagine it. It was grueling, daunting, and desperate. Would they make it before the child was born? Would they run out of money and supplies? Would they be attacked on the road? Would their relationship survive yet another brutal test?
Stress. Questions. Uncertainty. Desperation.
And God knew it, and allowed it, and used it as part of the God-man birth narrative. The humble and obscure birth of the most profound “Influencer” the world has ever seen. Jesus—the God-human who’s strange birth we still celebrate every year at this time.
But it’s not just the birth that gives us hope. It’s also the truth that Jesus’ birth came in the middle of weirdness, struggle, and desperation on a long and uncertain journey.
Can you relate? If you feel like you’re on a long journey, sometimes stumbling around in the dark, unsure of what’s around the next turn…you’re not alone. The struggle is real, but there is hope.
Looking back, it might seem like a simple trip from here to there. But right now, it’s a grueling trip with few guarantees. And yet, God is with you. Walk on!