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Answered 2009-06-29 13:01:03

Mary and Joseph were obliged to go to Bethlehem for the census by the Roman authorities. In a sense you could also say God led them, since it was ordained that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.

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We do not know what was in Joseph or Mary's mind that led them to Bethlehem before Jesus was born. perhaps there was a compelling reason for them to go there at that particular time. We do know that God played a very large part in why they went to Bethlehem because it had been prophesied before hand that the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem and that prophecy had to be fulfilled (See Micah 5:2). All we know is that in the mind of Joseph and Mary was that they had to go to Bethlehem at that particular time. We have seen in Scripture more than once that God has directed persons to do certain things and unbeknown to them they were fulfilling a purpose for God.

it led the three kings to the jesus baby

It's a pretty fable. The Christmas star is so significant because it represents the Star of Bethlehem, which in the Nativity Story led shepherds and the Three Kings to locate the baby Jesus from afar. They eventually found Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a small stable in Bethlehem and worshipped him.

The question may arise from the fact that Luke's Gospel says that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem just forty days after his birth, to present him at the Temple, and that they then returned peacefully to their home in Nazareth. This means that Jesus would not have been in Bethlehem if the wise men arrived any later.However a parallel reading of the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke quickly tells us that the two stories are quite independent of each other.In Matthew's Gospel, Bethlehem was the home town of Joseph and Mary. After the birth of Jesus, they fled to Egypt to escape King Herod, who sought to kill Jesus. After the death of Herod, they returned towards their home in Bethlehem, but being warned by God, turned aside and travelled to Nazareth in Galilee.In Luke's Gospel, Nazareth was the home town of Joseph and Mary. They were required to travel to Bethlehem because of a census of the entire Roman Empire during the time that Quirinius was governor of Syria. A few weeks after the birth of Jesus, the young couple took Jesus to Jerusalem to be presented at the Temple, then returned peacefully to their home in Nazareth.Once we recognise the independence of the two nativity stories, we are compelled to adopt a critical principle of reading if we mean to understand each story on its own terms. We must scrupulously avoid reading into Matthew's account any facts or notions taken from Luke's account, and vice versa. Thus, in reading about the wise men, we must not assume that the young family left Bethlehem before the wise men arrived.Nor do we know whether the wise men would have come two years after the birth of Jesus or as little as a few days later. The story says that a star led them westwards to Jerusalem, then turned around and led them south-east to Bethlehem, where it showed them the very house where Joseph and Mary lived. On this, however, Ian Wilson (Jesus: The Evidence) says the hard reality is that the Matthew nativity story does not offer sufficient historicity for anyone to be confident that there was a star at all.

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The stories of the birth of Jesus ware found in Matthew's Gospel and Luke's Gospel. We now know that Matthew's Gospel was written in the 80s of the first century and that Luke's Gospel was written around the end of the century. Both dates are so long after the birth of Jesus that the authors would never have met Joseph, Mary, Zacharias, Elizabeth, or any one who could have been a confidant of Mary or Joseph. In spite of this, both authors wrote detailed accounts of exactly what happened, even telling us what the parents thought and what they said.Carefully reading the two nativity accounts, we find that they are, in fact, irreconcilably different.In Matthew, the home town of Joseph and Mary was Bethlehem. They fled to Egypt with Jesus, for fear of King Herod, who ordered the slaughter of all the boys under two years old. After the death of Herod, they began to return home to Bethlehem but, being warned in a dream, turned aside and travelled to Nazareth in Galilee.In Luke, the home town of Joseph and Mary was Nazareth. Augustus Caesar reportedly ordered a census of the whole empire so that everyone could be taxed. This required Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in a stable. Eight days after the birth of Jesus, he was circumcised. When the days of the purification of Mary were accomplished, Jesus was taken to the Jerusalem Temple, where Jesus seems to have attracted a great deal of attention, and the family then returned peacefully to Nazareth.A well-known mystery in Luke's Gospel is the story of the census that led to Joseph and Mary travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Scholars say that there was only one census that involved Quirinius, and that occurred in 6 CE, yet the Gospel says that Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod, who died in 4 BCE. Since the author of Luke is known to have drawn material from the works of the Jewish historian, Josephus, it is likely that he learnt of the census of Quirinius from the same source, but did not realise that it was just too late to have been during the reign of Herod.The pattern we see here, is that neither author really knew anything about the birth of Jesus. No one told them of when or where Jesus was born, but they felt that a birth story was needed, so they wrote one.

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