Luke 2.1-7 [King James Bible]
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Familiar words, and for some no doubt, from a familiar version of the Bible that we may have grown up with? But sometimes the familiar can mean we don’t give thought to the meaning. This reading, as with many in the King James Bible, begins ‘It came to pass…’ indeed, this phrase is used over 450 times. So what does it mean for us today? Interestingly, the Collins dictionary says it means ‘to take place, to happen’. As Christians we believe that these things did indeed happen, that God did come to into the world in Jesus [Emmanuel] for which we testify through our own experience of Christ in our lives. It seems so hard for the world to believe this now and in truth then as well, but we can say with conviction that it happened, it came to pass.
But the Bible also uses this phrase to say the birth of Jesus came to pass, as it said it would through God’s prophets. We might say of things that happen in life; I thought that would happen or I could have predicted that, or even sometimes we use sayings like ‘it will end in tears’ or as my dad used to say to me “you’ll cry before you go to bed”, which was predicting things that we expect to happen or not surprised that they did. But God’s word is not speculative as we might be from time to time, but has the certainty and authority of truth i.e. if God says it, it will happen. When people say to you at a nativity play ‘that’s a nice story’ inferring it’s just a story, not real, how might we respond? We should testify in our own words that we believe it came to pass… that it really happened.
That said, ‘It came to pass’ in the Bible can also mean that it actually connects what happened before with what is coming into being or the new thing that Jesus will do. Maybe God is calling us as individuals and church through this old saying to move from one thing to doing a new thing or a new way of thinking or a new way of living as followers of Jesus? Food for thought and prayer as we move into a new year?
May you all be truly blessed in every situation you find yourselves in this Christmas and my personal thanks for all your love, support and encouragement in 2022. I look forward to sharing together with you in the work God calls us to do in 2023.
Praying you have a happy love filled Christmas
Your friend and servant