Mary is pregnant, not just a little pregnant but it-could-happen-at-any-moment pregnant. She and Joseph are living in Nazareth, but scripture says the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem some 70 miles away. For us that doesn’t sound like a difficult trip, even if we had to walk it. But remember the roads were not paved and not altogether safe. They had to travel through Samaria which meant they may or may not find housing for the evening since Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along. And yes, Mary is great with child. Would Joseph just on a whim pack his pregnant wife up and hike 70 miles to Bethlehem just for a holiday? Probably not.
But as the old saying (not scripture) says “God moves in mysterious ways.” Caesar Augustus had called a census, and the workers don’t come to you, you must go to your hometown. So Joseph heads to his hometown. If you have looked at Jesus’ genealogy you know that he was a descendent of David, and so was Mary. So off to David’s hometown they go, Bethlehem. I’m sure Caesar wasn’t thinking about helping God fulfill prophesy, but he wasn’t the one in charge. God has a plan and purpose for us, and while we may not recognize how the events of our lives are in his control, God is. In the birth of Jesus, we see God moving to carry out his will, that is just one of the lessons that the Christmas has to teach us.