Well, Christmas is one week from today. Can you believe it? This will be my final week of Advent posting obviously, so I want to take a look at the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth specifically.
First, we all know the story of how a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that there was going to be a census, so everyone had to go to their hometown. Joseph and Mary left Nazareth to travel to Bethlehem, the ancestral home of Joseph’s family since he was of the lineage of David. This may seem like a giant coincidence. There is no way that Caesar Augustus knew that he was accomplishing prophecy when he ordered the census. It is not like he knew that he had to figure out some clever way to force a specific Jewish couple to basically go on vacation to Bethlehem.
Caesar Augustus wanted to take a census because he was a leader who was most likely interested in knowing how many people were in his empire. However, through that process, Joseph and Mary did indeed go to Bethlehem. What needed to happen to fulfill prophecy actually happened. No one on earth understood all of these moving parts, but they all happened just as they needed to.
Everything might have happened in this way by chance. The census just happened to occur at just the right time when Mary happened to be pregnant under very mysterious circumstances. Beyond that, Joseph just happen to be from the right family that had its roots in Bethlehem. If all of that happened to fall into line at just the right time, then certainly it should be a coincidence.
However, a much simpler explanation is that God was behind the orchestration of these events. The only way that the explanation from God is not the simplest explanation is if you automatically, by default assume that God must not or cannot exist. After all, if the supernatural is impossible, then any explanation from God is impossible. However, if it is possible that God does indeed exist, then maybe that is one hypothesis worth looking at. It makes much more sense of how everything happened all at the perfect time.
I know that some people will not find this line of argument convincing whatsoever, but there is a certain amount of power behind it. After all, in much the same way that we talk about the fine-tuning of the universe as a whole, the circumstances around the birth of Jesus Christ are pretty remarkable to say the least, and the fact that they fit into a narrative that existed long before the human birth of Jesus is even more significant. Jesus was fulfilling prophecy in a way that really could not be contrived by human hands. The only way that everything would have worked out in the way that it did is if a providential hand was helping put the right pieces in play. Certainly, everyone in the situation had free will, but God utilized the decisions each of them made to fulfill His grand plan. It really is remarkable.