Journey to the Manger: Caesar Augustus

Daddy, Lauren and Grandma work to count their M&Ms in our census.
Daddy, Lauren and Grandma work to count their M&Ms in our census.

Today we took part in the census ordered by Caesar Augustus on our Journey to the Manger.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

– Luke 2:1-3

Caesar Augustus
Caesar Augustus

God used the leader of the Roman world to fulfill His promises. When Caesar Augustus issued a decree for the people of his empire to be counted in order to assess taxes, he was thinking about his riches and power, not God’s long-awaited Messiah. Every person was required to go back to his hometown for the census, including Joseph and his betrothed wife Mary. So, this young couple packed their few worldly belongings and headed toward Bethlehem. Micah the prophet foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem hundreds of years before this census. God moved in the mind of an ungodly Caesar to bring His Son to the City of David, where Jesus made His humble entrance into the world He would save.

To help us understand in a bite-sized way the undertaking of a census, we held our own. We split a large M&M bag in half, and assigned teams to begin the count. With grandparents joining us for the day, we separated the colors first to segment the counting, just like each person had to go to their own hometown in the Roman census. We pretended that all the blue M&Ms were in Jerusalem, the oranges were Bethlehem, and the rest of the colors were other towns. Once all the colors were counted, we then added all the numbers together for our total census count.

Caesar Augustus cared about the overall numbers in order to feed his ego and live in luxury from the taxes of the multitudes. Caesar wanted to rule the masses, and Joseph and Mary must have felt so small and unimportant in the bustling crowds on their journey to Bethlehem. But, God saw them. He was with them, literally wrapped up in Mary’s womb.

God cares about each person. He sees you and me. He journeys with us. We are not alone, and we are never lost in a crowd to God. God doesn’t hold censuses, but He does know the number of hairs on each head. We are not insignificant. We are so incredibly valuable, Jesus paid our ransom in full on the cross.

Papa and Jackson tally the final count for our M&M census.
Papa and Jackson tally their count for our M&M census.

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

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