BUT now a new difficulty arises. There sifts into this little hill-village from faraway Rome an imperial edict There is to be a new taxation census taken. Every one must be enrolled. The edict is imperative.
This was most embarrassing. It would necessitate a journey to Bethlehem, the ancestral centre of their family. It would at best be a tedious, slow journey. It came at just the time when Mary would naturally have avoided travel, and longed for the quiet and seclusion of home. This would be the natural first thought to come.
Yet this thought may not have come. For Mary was the kind to think ahead into things in her thoughtful, brooding way. This unusual Son of hers was to sit on the throne of His father David. And it would be the appropriate thing that He should be bom in the city of David, Bethlehem.
And her mind very likely had gone to Micah's word: “Thou Bethlehem, once called Ephratah . . . out of thee shall one come forth ... to be the ruler in Israel” (Mic_5:2). But apparently the old home possessions had quite passed out of the family, in the vicissitudes and strange mix-up of the generations. She may have been wondering through those waiting months if indeed this were a part of the wondrous plan.
But how it would work out she could not see probably, and had been content to leave this in her Lord’s hands as so many things had been left.
And now very simply and naturally it is all working out. The whole governmental machinery of Rome is set in motion that the way may be made open for the plan to work out fully in every important detail.
And the news that might have seemed embarrassing and troublesome to another brings another quiet singing of her magnificat. Here is another bit of evidence that God is indeed in action. His plan is naturally, simply working out. And everything needful is made to bend and help.
And so the journey is prepared for. The preparations are made thoughtfully and thoroughly, for nothing must be loose or slipshod on the human side. But they are made with a song of praise, while maybe the neighbors wonder a bit over Mary’s spirit under what seem like very embarrassing circumstances.
And so the journey is made. By slow and easy stages, probably, they make their way southward to the ancient ancestral seat of their family. And one day they came in sight of the old town lying yonder upon the southern hills surrounded by olive orchards and green fields and fertile lowlands.
They ride in past David’s well and on into the narrow streets of the city. Joseph doubtless longed to take Mary to a home but none is open, and they ask their way to the travellers’ inn.
And now another really annoying embarrassment comes. The innkeeper comes out and earnestly assures Joseph in answer to his questions and pleadings that there really is no room at all to be had. The census has brought an unusual number of old Judah people. And the inn is crowded, quite overcrowded.
This is indeed embarrassing. But a great peace fills Mary’s heart as she listens to them talking. He who has led will lead. All will be well. Nothing has escaped His eye. It will be as He has arranged. And she would not have it otherwise.
Then the innkeeper suggests that as night is drawing on they might find shelter and rest in one of the outer buildings. They really could be made quite comfortable for a makeshift. And perhaps on the morrow something could be arranged in the house.
And so it is arranged. And there Mary rests a bit after her journey, and likely as not there’s another soft singing, aye, joyous singing, of her wondrous song.