Come and be free indeed!

Would you look at those two? They look like they’re straight off the farm. The girl looks like a child herself, barely old enough to be having a child of her own. This trip to the big city of Bethlehem may be the most exciting thing they ever do.

So many Jews, most of them looking out of place. Do they even understand what a census is, and how it will be used? Sometimes I’m not sure myself. By the looks of them, even if they understand why the “big, bad” Roman government wants a headcount, they resent it.

Just look at the faces of those who have come to be registered. Worry, doubt, maybe some fear. Some of the younger ones look at me, in my soldier’s uniform with my ledger and sword, with defiance in their eyes. The old ones, resignation written all over them, like they’ve given up hope for any kind of deliverance. Will any of them find what they’re looking for in Bethlehem?

 1–2 During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. (Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time.) Everyone had to travel to his or her hometown to complete the mandatory census. 4–5 So Joseph and his fiancé, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth.
Luke 2: 1-5  TPT

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When Tom and I took political science, the professor told us “bureaucracy” had become the fourth branch of government in the United States. He said it was because some  bureaucratic agency touches people’s lives on nearly a daily basis.

In our world, bureaucracy isn’t just about census and taxes. It’s about drivers’ licenses, marriage licenses, passports, immunization records… So many demands, so many rules, none of which are of our own making.

​Do we ever approach bureaucratic tasks with mindsets like the people coming to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census? Do we ever come with fear, anger, hopelessness? There are times when simply filling out a form about puts me over the edge, Dear Reader. Does that ring a bell?

Jesus lived in a world full of bureaucracy, rules, and regulations for every aspect of life. If it wasn’t the Romans, it was the Pharisees. Compound that with cultural norms and biases, and you’ve got a hot mess!

​In John’s Gospel (8:31-36), Jesus explained to His followers that true freedom is only found in walking closely with Him. Freedom from restraint and inhibition that bureaucracy binds us with, and freedom from sin. Who doesn’t want that?

It’s a choice, Dear Reader. In a time and place when civil liberties may still be threatened, we have the assurance of the Living Son of God that He provides and protects our spiritual liberty.

​Instead of being downcast by bureaucracy and “Signs”, we can rejoice in Jesus’s invitation to come and experience freedom in Him.


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