“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1).
The paying of taxes has prompted us to coin a new word. That word is “taxing.” It means to be stressed or burdened. The paying of taxes is taxing to our emotions.
Maybe our blood pressure doesn’t rise when looking at the receipt of a sales tax, but when we add to that the list of vehicle taxes, property taxes and income taxes, we begin to be a bit disturbed. The simple thought of April 15th can stress us already in December.
Imagine then, if our government decided to step up its taxing abilities. What if, to make sure that no one skipped out, we all had to go back to where we were born to personally register for this tax? Can you imagine the outcry from American taxpayers?
When Caesar Augustus decided upon his grand tax plan, it affected not only Italy. “The whole word” was his target. He meant the whole world of the Roman Empire. But, that was big enough. It included the minor provinces of Galilee and Judea. It included a Mary and Joseph.
The walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem was almost 80 miles. Mary was close to delivering her first child. The crowds coming to register for the taxation left no room for those who had to walk slowly and arrive later.
This was a taxing situation! We might wonder if God could not have chosen a different time for Jesus to be born. If he knew the plan of Caesar Augustus in advance (and he surely did), why not have the birth take place six months earlier or later? Why did he choose to have this take place at the worst of times?
Some might say that he did it because he could do it. Who was to stop him? But we know enough about the Lord of all to realize that he does not ignore our dilemmas, nor does he delight to cause us stress.
He doesn’t explain to us exactly why the birth of Jesus occurred when it did. But, it was not by accident that the glorious Son of God was born in a barn. He was making a point. The Savior of the world was to be a humble servant. He was born to a mother who was being taxed. Both Mary and her Son would continue with stressful, taxing lives.
We can relate to that. Many times the extra stress comes into our lives at the worst of times. The Navy wife lamented, “Why does the washing machine have o break down two days after he ships out, instead of two days before?”
Heaven doesn’t answer that question, except to say, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1)
That is enough to know. That lifts any burden from our shoulders.
And we feel taxed no more.
Heavenly Father, many things in life are taxing to us. Sometimes the stresses and burdens of life weigh us down so much that we begin wondering if you notice, and if you care. Point us back to the birth of your Son. Show us again that your plans are always for our good—and that you are piling on the blessings even when it does not feel like it. Teach us to live our lives as children of the heavenly Father.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military