In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 ESV)
Any respectable person watching CNN in Jesus’ day would have known who Caesar Augustus was. He followed the famous Julius Caesar and became emperor of Rome in 27 BC. For the next 41 years he led the massive Roman empire and established a peaceful kingdom. Though all self-respecting Israelites hated Roman oppression, they appreciated the peace Caesar Augustus brought.
Quirinius was a well-respected war hero. He worked his way up through the ranks becoming a mentor for Casear Augustus’ grandson. He excelled at every position he held eventually landing the position as governor of Syria, the province in northern Israel where Nazareth is located. He would have been a regular contributor to Fox News–an expert in Palestinian affairs.
The leading news story of Luke’s day was the census. Reporters would have camped along the dirt roads leading into Bethlehem and interviewed the travelers. Caesar Augustus and Quirinius ruled the day. No one would have known a young woman named Mary and her fiancé, Joseph. They were lost in the sea of weary travelers making the trek to their hometown to be counted.
However, 740 years earlier a prophet named Micah called this:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2 ESV)
Every news outlet in Jesus’ day missed the story. Caesar and Quirinius ruled the world and the day…or so they thought. But out of Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah, came the Ruler of all rulers. I am reminded again of John Oxenham’s poem:
He writes in characters too grand
For our short sight to understand;
We catch but broken strokes, and try
To fathom all the mystery
Of withered hopes, of death, of life,
The endless war, the useless strife,–
But there, with larger, clearer sight,
We shall see this–
HIS WAY WAS RIGHT.
His way is right when no one notices. His way is right when no one cares. His way is right when no one understands.
His way is right.