Are you traveling for Christmas? Many will be getting into cars, trains, and planes to be with the ones they love. Travel was also a big part of that very first Christmas – minus the cars, trains, and planes.
Mary and Joseph traveled nearly 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem and that journey would have taken 8-10 days. There are folks today that pay tourist companies around $1,500 to make that same hike. I doubt any of them are 9 months pregnant when they do. As long as that journey was, it was not the longest.
The magi, and we don’t know exactly how many there were, traveled a much longer distance. Many scholars believe they came from Persia which was over 1,000 miles away. They traveled on the backs of camels for many months. No matter how crammed you may feel on your long flight, it has to be better than sitting on camel’s hump for months. But this was still not the longest journey.
The longest and most difficult journey on that first Christmas was the journey Jesus embarked on. Philippians 2:6-7 tells us that, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” Jesus left the comforts of heaven and travelled to earth.
What would motivate such a journey? I propose that it is the same motivation that makes all of us travel for Christmas – love. Jesus didn’t just want to be with us for Christmas, but for all eternity. His journey was a rescue mission. Jesus tells us His purpose for coming to earth in John 6:38-40, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life.”
Have you ever met someone half-way in your travels? Jesus doesn’t ask this of us. He is called Immanuel which means, “God is with us”. Jesus traveled the full distance to be with us now and for all eternity. You can sense the earnestness in His words recorded in Revelation 3:20, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Jesus wants to be with you and He proved it by traveling from heaven to earth and then to the cross where He rescued us from the bondage of sin. There is joy when we finally arrive and are knocking on the door of our loved ones. Can you imagine not having the door opened?
Wherever your travels take you this Christmas, I pray that God will protect you and bring you safely back home. Our ultimate home is with Jesus and this is the very heart of Christmas. Jesus made the longest journey and now waits for us to open the door of our hearts. Godspeed!