In the poem “Twas the night before Christmas” the preparations had all been made and the family had settled in for the night on Christmas Eve. Their shopping was done (or it was now too late) and nature (or fantasy) just had to take its course.
It’s now two weeks until Christmas and like most people I’m still busy shopping and decorating in anticipation of Christmas Day (for a lot of people, the shopping and decorating are part of the celebration, although at times it can be somewhat exasperating).
When I thought about the preparation people make in anticipation of Christmas Day, I pondered what Mary and Joseph might have been doing two weeks before Jesus’ birth. What do you think?
Sometime shortly before he was born they went on a road trip and, according to non-scripturally-based tradition, Mary was riding a donkey although the King James and standard versions of the Bible say she was great with child, indicating that she was close to delivering (Luke 2:1-5 New International Version says she was merely expecting a child).
While the times have changed somewhat, I can remember being told to not stray far from home during the last month or so with our second child (we barely got into the seventh month with our first one).
Joseph and Mary had other things to do besides getting ready for Jesus’ arrival. It didn’t matter that she was great with child. They still had to travel the 60 miles or so from Nazareth to Bethlehem (at least a couple of days’ trip in those days – Luke 2:41-45) for the census.
We don’t know the actual date of his birth either and there’s a lot of speculation that it was probably later in winter or even early spring, although that also really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Jesus did come to bring the opportunity of salvation for all people and that he’s coming again, this time he’s coming to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him and have made the necessary preparations (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Jesus is going to come back for Christians on a set date, but we don’t know when that will take place (John 14:1-6; Acts 17:30-31; Matthew 24:36). Nonetheless we’ve all been commanded to repent of our sins in preparation for that day and prove our repentance by our deeds, which includes helping others to become prepared (Acts 26:19-20; 2:38-39; 6:7; 1 Peter 1:22-23; Luke 1:17; Matthew 28:18-20).
God’s word tells us the way we are to prepare for Jesus’ return. To not be ready for that day only leads to eternal separation from God in a place prepared for the devil, but if we’re always ready, we can settle in and rest assured that he’s prepared a place for us to be with him for eternity (Luke 12:35-46; Matthew 25:1-13, 31-46).
Are you ready for Jesus’ return? Any moment could be the eve of that event. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get ready.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org