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Likely: a hurried marriage in Nazareth

December 17, 2021

Daily Scripture

Luke 2:1-5

1 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We’ve seen that where the gospels differ, “No attempt is made to bring them into line.”* Matthew said Joseph “did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife,” but didn’t say where or how he did that. People, at that time, believed engagement was as binding as marriage, so Luke said they went to Bethlehem when Mary “was promised to him in marriage.” Pastor Hamilton’s idea seems likely: “We can surmise that Mary may have been about five months pregnant on the day she was married.”**

  • The source of Mary’s pre-marital pregnancy was unique. The fact of it was not. “Several dozen of the more than three hundred weddings I’ve officiated over in the last twenty years were expedited by the pending birth of a child.”*** Were you taught that such a pregnancy disgraces one or both parents (and, often, the child), or did you learn a more matter of fact approach? How can you avoid adding shame and shunning to the practical challenges of a pregnancy outside of formal marriage?
  • Throughout Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth, we find this key theme: “At the time of Jesus’ birth, Israel was a Roman-occupied territory. The powers of the occupying forces could not have known that they were no match for the one being born who would occupy the whole world in a brand-new way.”**** How has Jesus “occupied” (and improved) your life in a way no earthly power could?

The Journey: A Season of Reflections

Today’s Insights blog was chapter 18, “The Unplanned Wedding that Scripture Doesn’t Mention,” from The Journey: A Season of Reflections, by Adam Hamilton. Copyright © 2011 by Abingdon Press, and available on our website for 24 hours by permission of Abingdon Press. If you’d like to buy the entire book of reflections, you can click here for a direct link to the Cokesbury sale page, as well as other Journey resources.


Lord Jesus, you taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” Today I again step away from the throne of my life, and gladly take up my place as a citizen of your kingdom. Amen.

GPS Insights

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–15. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 8.

** Hamilton, Adam. The Journey – [Large Print] (p. 89). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

*** Ibid.

**** Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, introductory note to Luke 2 in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2016, p. 1290.