In these scriptures, Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph had to make the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem when Mary was “great with child”. The government required that they go back to the city of their family heritage (“because Joseph was of the house and lineage of David”, Luke 2:4). This was for tax purposes.
I’ve always thought how hard of a journey this must have been for Mary while being that close to her due date. I am not familiar enough with the area to know how far of a trip it was. I don’t know if she was on a camel or donkey or on foot. I imagine she walked part of the way and rode part of the way. It’s certainly not as comfortable as driving my temperature-controlled truck with cushioned seats on paved roads.
But, what struck me today about these scriptures, is that Mary and Joseph were meeting their civil responsibilities. Regardless of the difficulty, they didn’t make excuses, they just went. “And…while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6).
Our 12th Article of Faith is: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” There is no caveat for living in a country under an evil dictator. Sometimes I wonder about that. I feel so fortunate (blessed really) to have been born in and live in the US where we are able to vote in or out our government officials.
But it wasn’t the government’s plan that Jesus be born in Bethlehem. It was God’s plan. Prophecy is fulfilled whether or not we know we are participating. I think I benefit more, though, if I am a willing participant. I know my life would certainly be more difficult if I did not obey, honor and sustain the law. The scriptures are full of examples of people receiving inspiration while they were meeting their family, career and church obligations. Besides, I like my freedom.