We have birth certificates. Years ago the records were kept in the family Bible. Now ours are in Richmond. Luke details very carefully for us the record of the birth of Jesus.
Luke 2:1-7 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 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:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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.
Caesar Augustus was on the throne in Rome. Herod the Great was over Galilee and Cyrenius was governor. They were all under Rome. Daniel received the prophecy of the 70 weeks right down to the year when the Messiah would be born. Micah gave the prophecy of the region in Bethlehem where it would happen, and it did. It was said of Jacob’s son Judah that the scepter would not leave him until Messiah comes. Mary and Joseph were of the tribe of Judah and Bethlehem was a town in Judah. Had the Jews been on their toes they would have known when and where. When they heard news about a baby in a manger they should have put it together.
Luke wants us to realize how the hand of God works. The Roman Empire unknowingly put its stamp on the birth of Jesus Christ. Herod drew attention to the birth by his efforts to make Jesus disappear. Doing so only made it more visible and authenticated who he was. We have the record of God. Not all believe today just like they didn’t then. It came to pass. And so it was. It happened and is a matter of public record.
Augustus ruled with a strong hand. The Empire was successful. At the time of Jesus’ birth all the known world belonged to him. The other rulers were mere puppets who swore allegiance to Rome. Herod was cruel and very paranoid. He had his wives killed and most of his children. He tried to play up to Augustus, but he didn’t fall for this tactics. Putting his foot down, he declared that all the people had to return to the region of their birth to be counted for the purpose of taxation. The prosperity of Rome depended on the taxes.
Augustus didn’t know God and had no interest in him. Herod knew about God but rejected him. God used Herod’s egotism to cause friction with Augustus. The decree was made that people must go to the city of their ancestry. Joseph and Mary were in Nazareth on the northern border. Bethlehem was in the south. Mary was with child. They would not have traveled except for the law. It was God’s time. At the hardest times in our lives God is working. The Jews thought that God was far away, but he was sending his Son. Things are not as out of control as the devil wants us to think. God is still in control!
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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. By doing this they registered themselves and Jesus. Eight days later Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem. He was circumcised and registered in the temple. His birth was recorded in Bethlehem and in Jerusalem. The census included Jesus of Nazareth. That’s why years later we have the story of Jesus paying his taxes.
These are earthly records. The heavenly record also declares it so. John said in 1:34 and I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. This is history. The world won’t own up to it. The records are there, both in heaven and earth. If we believe, the record is in our heart. All of this is official enough for me.