The Birth of Jesus
History and Commentary
Of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Luke is the only Gospel writer who related the events that he recorded to world history. He was writing to a predominantly Greek audience that would have been interested in and familiar with the political situation. Palestine was under the rule of the Roman empire and the first Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, was in power.
The registration of citizens (a Roman census) was taken to aid military conscription and/or tax collection. The Jews,though not required to serve in the Roman army, had to pay taxes.
The government, as it were, forced Joseph to make the long trip to Bethlehem to register and to pay his taxes. The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles--quite a distance in those days. Mary--about to deliver her baby--had to accompany him.
Although things were difficult and they could not even find a comfortable place to stay, God's control over history was still evident. Jesus was born in the very town prophesied for His birth in the Bible (Micah 5:2) even though his parents did not live there.
Many other Old Testament prophecies concerning the birth of the Messiah were fulfilled. One example is that the Messiah would be born in David's royal line. Both Joseph and Mary were descendants of David. (See Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 33:15; Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5.)
Hebrew Law and Custom
When Jesus was born, Mary wrapped Him in cloths. These cloths, or bands of cloth, were used to keep a baby warm and to give the baby a sense of security. They were believed to protect the internal organs. This custom is still practiced today in many Mid-eastern countries.
David was born in Beth-lehem, and he was anointed as future king by Samuel there. It was also the birthplace of Jesus.