Luke 2:4-5 (New Century Version)
So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went here because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant.
The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem would most likely have taken Mary and Joseph through the holy city of Jerusalem. It would be about 74 miles to Jerusalem, then an additional 6 to Bethlehem. Nowadays, we travel 80 miles in our cars without a second thought. Just a few hours on the road, and we’re at our intended destination.
Travel was significantly more difficult in biblical days. They would have had to carry supplies for the trip: food, drink, bedding. There would have been dangers: roads that were unsafe, thieves who could steal your money or even take your life. And, of course, the petty annoyances of travel: dust and grim, tired feet, long days of moving in the same direction.
Add to all this the fact that Mary was heavily pregnant, and it may have taken up to a week to complete the journey. A long, arduous trip, all because the ruler of the land had decided to demand a census.
Mary and Joseph were nearing Bethlehem when she begins labor. They were far away from home, with no support. No midwife nearby, no mother or female cousin to help deliver the baby. At this momentous occasion, as they entered the town, it was only Mary and Joseph. And the baby was coming.
When have you found yourself without support in a time of great need?