Road to Bethlehem

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

 Have you ever had to travel a road to a new destination, not knowing what to expect? God alone held your future, and all you could do was trust Him to take care of you. Mary and Joseph must have felt the same way on their long road to Bethlehem. Let’s imagine together what that journey may have been like.

Mary sat, rocking gently side-to-side on a donkey led by her husband Joseph. As they traveled the ninety long miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, she had several days to ponder about the supernatural events of the last nine months.

Beginning with Gabriel’s angelic visitation, Mary was astounded at the announcement that God had chosen her, a virgin, to be the mother of His promised Messiah.

And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’ ~ Luke 1:35 NKJV.

Why her? A poor, fourteen-year-old Jewish girl from a strict, religious family who was betrothed to a carpenter, also devout. But why couldn’t God have waited until after they were married to avoid the scandal of a child conceived out-of-wedlock?

Joseph had confessed to her that he had been planning to “put her away” quietly so that she wouldn’t be disgraced in their community—not to mention avoiding the penalty of death by stoning.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

She shuddered and drew her cloak more tightly around her shoulders, recalling the dream Joseph had shared with her. God had reassured him that her unborn child belonged to the Holy Spirit and not to a man.

‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save Hispeople from their sins’ ~ Matthew 1:20b-21 NKJV.

She bowed her head and silently thanked God for His protection, deliverance, and especially for her husband’s obedience to God’s instruction.

Her thoughts turned to her relative, Elizabeth. More supernatural signs had appeared before her eyes that revealed she herself wasn’t the only woman who had conceived by a miracle.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible ~ Luke 1: 36-37 NKJV.

After Gabriel’s announcement, Mary had risen in haste to visit Elizabeth. Upon her unexpected arrival, Mary’s voice called out a greeting, and Elizabeth returned it with a prophecy.

And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord’~ Luke 1:41-45 NKJV.

What role was Elizabeth’s child going to play in this drama of the ages? As Mary witnessed the miracle of Elizabeth’s swollen belly, she marveled. It was just as Gabriel had announced.

Then Mary’s heart surged with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and words of thankfulness and praise poured from her lips.

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is Hisname.
And His mercy is onthose who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proudin the imagination of their hearts.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever’
~ Luke 1:46-55 NKJV.

 For three months Mary had stayed with Elizabeth, who recounted the puzzling story of how her husband Zacharias had been serving in the Temple six months earlier and had experienced some sort of angelic vision. He couldn’t relate what had happened because he had been struck mute and unable to speak. Right after that, Elizabeth had become pregnant and was rejoicing that the Lord had graciously taken away the shame of barrenness in her old age.

No one understood what had happened to Zacharias, but Mary reasoned that the silent man seemed to be at peace, waiting expectantly for the baby’s birth, no doubt.

After three months, Mary had returned home, and her belly continued to swell. She hadn’t meant to worry, but what could she and Joseph possibly offer in the way of parenting such a precious, Holy child? People continued to gossip and look down on her as time progressed. She dreaded fighting the rejection and ridicule this Child would likely face in their community. Raising Jesus would not prove easy.

Then the unexpected occurred. She heard the news of the census, which forced the couple to register in Bethlehem, as Joseph was of the house and lineage of David. She welcomed an escape from the gossip surrounding this Holy Child. Much better to give birth in a strange place where no one would question the parentage of God’s Son. Though difficult and seemingly unending, this trip proved far better than staying in Nazareth.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

Joseph paused at the top of a hill, halting the donkey and interrupting Mary’s thoughts. He turned around to her, eyes shining, and he ran his hand through his dusty beard. He pointed. “Look up ahead! Bethlehem. Our journey will be over soon.”

Relief and thankfulness swept through Mary. God had brought them safely to their destination. She joined hands with her husband and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. The baby in her womb kicked, and she cradled her belly. As the first contraction stabbed her, she doubled over. 

She searched Joseph’s face anxiously. “Please, let’s hurry. Time is short.” 

The Lamb’s Sinless Blood

The Lamb's Sinless Blood by Karen Jurgens

Growing up, my mother had encouraged me to become two things—a pianist and a nurse.

After seven years of piano study with some of the finest teachers at the Cincinnati College Conservatory, my final teacher dismissed me with a smile and a word of advice: “Perhaps your true talents lay elsewhere.”

However, I was wise enough to know without being told that I could never be a nurse. I couldn’t bear the sight of blood nor stand to be in hospitals, so I disqualified myself from seeking that degree. Even my two daughters had to clean and bandage each other’s booboos growing up, poor things. They learned at an early age that Mommy couldn’t stand the sight of blood.

As distasteful as the subject of blood may be, it is of supreme importance and significance, however, in Judaism and Christianity. As I discussed in my previous post, only innocent blood can atone for sin. Since there is no flesh and blood in heaven, only spirit, that sacrifice had to be made on earth. So, after using animal blood for thousands of years, God sent His Son to be the final propitiation for our sins. Simply put, Jesus was born to die.

How could Jesus be born with sinless blood?

Click to tweet: How could Jesus be born with sinless blood?

The Lamb's Sinless Blood by Karen Jurgens

Martin R. DeHaan, M.D.

What a fascinating question. Martin R. DeHaan, M.D., author of The Chemistry of the Blood, is an expert who scientifically proves how this is possible. Dr. DeHaan (1891-1965) was a physician, author, pastor and Bible teacher. Founder of Radio Bible Class, he spoke to millions of listeners for twenty-seven years. Author of more than twenty books, he also founded and contributed countless daily devotionals in Our Daily Bread, still published today from Michigan. (Click on the name above to visit Our Daily Bread website.)

Conception and Birth of Jesus

Even though Christmas is five months behind us, let’s begin by reading the Bible’s account of this supernatural event in Matthew 1:18-23:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.  And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us’ (NASB).

God sent Jesus to earth to be born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. His human body required a pure vessel to grow in, one that had never been touched by a man. Mary herself wasn’t sinless, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 NASB), but her physical body hadn’t yet known sexual intimacy with her husband-to-be.

After the immaculate conception, Scripture tells us that Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus (Matthew 1:24-25 NASB).

The Origin of Blood

The Lamb's Sinless Blood by Karen Jurgens

Have you ever cracked open an egg and found a dot of red in the yolk? I learned as a young, aspiring cook to throw that stained egg down the drain and never use a fertilized egg in recipes. Left alone, a hen’s egg won’t develop into a chick, but just hours after it’s fertilized, the red streaks of blood appear. Life is in the blood, and exactly twenty-one days later, a chick pecks its way out of its shell.

 

The same principle applies to us. A women’s menstrual cycle occurs every month, but a pregnancy requires a father’s contribution. After sperm unites with an egg, life begins, and the life is in the blood–proof that life begins at conception. Forty weeks later, a baby is born. Scripture tells us this fact:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:14a NASB).

Since it’s the father’s contribution that produces the blood in a conceived child, God’s Son grew inside Mary’s womb with God’s perfect, sinless blood. Scientifically, the mother’s blood never mixes or comes in contact with the growing child. For a more scientific explanation from Dr. DeHaan, click How Jesus had sinless blood.

Sacrificing lambs, goats, and bulls wasn’t God’s final solution. He had a better plan.

While Jesus celebrated Passover in the Upper Room with His disciples, Passover animals waited for slaughter on the altars of Jerusalem’s Temple. As His ministry came to a close, Jesus explained to His disciples about His blood and Its purpose. Remember when Jesus said people would have to eat His body and drink His blood to be part of Him? Consequently, many of His followers found this to be a hard saying and had fallen away. However, Jesus was referring to the New Covenant, not cannibalism.

Communion, not cannibalism

The Lamb's Sinless Blood by Karen Jurgens

During the night on which He was betrayed, Maundy Thursday, Jesus established the New Covenant’s Holy Communion with His disciples at the Last Supper.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’  And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom’ (Matthew 26: 26-29 NASB).

What a glorious day when we will all take communion together with Christ in heaven!

While sacrificial animals shed their blood on the Temple’s altars, the Great Exchange happened at the Cross, and Jesus became the Savior of Mankind. With the establishment of the New Covenant, we take communion to remember what the Lord Jesus did for us—die in our place so we can be forgiven of our sins.

With the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, all blood sacrifice has ended. Forever. There is only one way to God, by His Son’s blood shed at Calvary. Through His sacrifice we are forgiven, and through His resurrection we have eternal life in heaven, becoming joint heirs with Christ.

The Lamb's Sinless Blood by Karen Jurgens

Do you know Jesus as Savior and Lord? You can. Today is the day of salvation. We have no promise of tomorrow. Ask Him to come into your heart and cleanse you of your sins with His blood. You’ll become His child, and the angels will rejoice in heaven. The angels will write your name in The Lamb’s Book of Life, and your eternity with Jesus will be sealed forever.

Have you noticed that this theme of the Lamb of God keeps growing? The more I’ve studied and delved into Scriptures concerning the Lamb, the deeper it’s become. The final post about the Lamb of God in Revelation will be the most exciting because those events are yet to come. I hope you’ll join me again soonUntil then, be blessed!

Thankful for Advent

thankful-for-advent-by-karen-jurgens

First published on www.HeartWingsBlog.com

The Advent of the Lord Jesus is a wonderful time when we are truly thankful. God bestowed an abundance of blessings on all people and for all generations when He created His First Family into which Jesus would be born.

I’ve often guessed what it must have been like for Mary on that day of angelic visitation. What joy to hear Gabriel announce that she would become the Holy Mother of the promised Messiah. Furthermore, he brought news about her relative Elizabeth who had conceived in her barrennes and was six months pregnant. I can imagine Mary dropping everything and running to the hill country to witness this miracle for herself.

As Mary entered the house of Zacharias in the city of Judah, Elizabeth, her round belly protruding, proved God’s Word. Thankfulness and joy abounded, and even John leapt in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” ~ Luke 1:42b-45, NASB.*

Mary responded with worship, praise, and thankfulness to God for His goodness in her famous Magnificat:

And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48″For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49″For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50″And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51″He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52″He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53″He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54″He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever” ~ Luke 1:46-56, NASB.*

Did Mary know what would really happen? Not fully, but she understood that she had been chosen to give birth to the Promised One who would bring deliverance and salvation to the Jews. The births of these two babies—one God’s only Son and the other a trumpeter of His Advent—would change the course of human history.

That may have been enough then, but there would be so much more to unfold in the next thirty-three years. Still, I wonder … Mary, did you know? (Click the link below to watch)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE

*www.Bible.com