The most epic journey!!

The Christmas rush — flights are full, trains are overloaded and roads are chock-a-block. Christmas sends many of us on annual migrations, some to their homes while others go away from their homes. This is part of Christmas traditions but unlike others, this tradition goes back to the very first one.

When we go through the Christmas narratives in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke we find people travelling. Yes, they were travelling even then! We see Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem, the wise men are coming from the east and the shepherds take a short trip as well.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10 NIV

Each of these journeys is distinct and they tell a story of their own. They not only reveal the context of Jesus’ birth but also represent the purpose of his birth. Yet at the same time, these journeys are not very different from the journeys we go on. Each of our journeys has a purpose, there are some motivations along with some apprehensions.

Mary and Joseph’s journey to get counted

Mary and Joseph have to travel to Bethlehem to participate in the Census as per the decree of the Roman Emperor. This royal decree is enough to motivate them to go, they can’t afford to disobey the decree. Yet they have more than enough reasons to be apprehensive — Mary is pregnant and her delivery is due. Imagine travelling in those conditions! But they had to travel such was the Roman authority.

The wise men’s starry journey

The wise men, on the other hand, were travelling of their own free-will. They saw a star, interpreted it’s divine meaning and travelled to worship the new King. They were motivated by their desire to worship the eternal King. The roadblock in their journey was the uncertainty and the treachery if King Herod. But they travelled because of the hope the star gave them.

The shepherds’ short trip

The shepherds also travelled, a short trip from outside the village to the cattle-shed where Jesus was born. They were motivated by the heavenly invitation sent to them via the heavenly host. They could have worried about their sheep or run away afraid. But instead they ran into the village to see the Messiah, such was their curiosity and spiritual hunger.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 NIV

Three different journeys, each had its own motivation, roadblock and culmination. Yet there is one more journey unlike each of them. The journey that Jesus took transcending the world divinity and entering the world of humanity.

The journey of Incarnation

Mary and Joseph had to obey the authorities. The wise men were driven by hope and their desire to worship. The shepherds couldn’t have said no after what they saw. Each of them had a reason to travel. One wonders, what motivated Jesus to travel? When we look at the roadblocks he faced, this question becomes even more important.

Jesus’ journey was not a mere physical transit from point A to point B like the others. He humbled himself from his glorious state and took the vulnerable form of a child. He submitted himself to a life of hardships, betrayal and a criminal’s death. Why did he do all this, why?

The Epistle to the Philippians gives us an image of Christ’s sacrifice in the second chapter. The Gospel according to John in the third chapter points to God’s love as the source of this journey and in the Gospel according to Luke’s chapter 19 Jesus explains his purpose.

He came to save the lost and who are these lost people. If we look around we will see that each one us is lost. We live lives that are lost and broken. We seem to progress but that’s only skin-deep, each of our lives has a heartbreaking story to tell. The reality is that we are tired and lost. Reflect upon this for a moment, ask yourself — are you lost?

Jesus came so that through him, we may discover our true identity. All across the Gospels, we see Jesus transforming lives and in return, he endures suffering. He didn’t have to come, he had no personal intentions behind it. His only concern was you and me. It still is!

The shepherds and the wise men, they come from different backgrounds and represent different social statuses. Yet they are united in their simple faith when called to take a journey. Each of us is also on a journey, we have our own motivations and apprehensions. This Christmas let us reflect on our response to the journey call Jesus gives us all.