Article contributed by Neil Evans, December 2021.

A mandate was issued by our Prime Minister that all New Zealand should be vaccinated. In certain jobs if you are not vaccinated you could no longer work – nurses and teachers to name a few.

As we are in the Advent season, Luke 2 tells the story of the birth of Jesus.

A government mandate

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken throughout all the world”- Luke 2:1

Imagine the trouble this would have caused. Each person had to return to their own city. Not quite a lockdown but great inconvenience as people travelled all over Israel in long journeys, leaving behind their homes and places of business to comply with a decree that would be of no benefit to them and would just allow increased taxation.

Increased stress

There would be much annoyance, much anxiety and insecurity about accommodation on the journey and the increased taxation which was sure to follow. On top of this, a loss of income as jobs and businesses were left behind to follow the emperor’s decree.

In this scenario, a heavily pregnant mum-to-be cannot relax at home with family nearby to assist but must travel not knowing where she might be when the baby is born. She was probably thinking this is not good for the son of the Most High God.

In this stress filled environment and becoming more so, the young couple are turned away from one accommodation option after another. Nothing is available in Bethlehem. Note there is no abuse directed towards harried innkeepers. They had not created the situation which was forced upon them.

Imagine having to give birth in a stable, cave or some other animal shelter. The new-born placed in an animal feeding trough. Not fit for a person let alone the King of Kings.

The challenge – humility

Can we be like Jesus? Phil 2:5-8 says:

“ Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant , being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Being born around animals and being placed in a manger was the first example of Jesus’ humility. This Christmas season can I encourage you to imitate Christ, to humble yourself. Don’t let those petty arguments consume you. Don’t allow your pride to ruin a relationship:

“Those with good sense are slow to anger and it is their glory to overlook an offence”- Prov 19:11

Can you seek to glorify God this Christmas season in your response to conflict? Seek to please and honour Him by depending on his wisdom, power and love.

(The idea of linking the vaccine mandate and the decree of Caesar Augustus was taken from a Bible study by Pastor Greg Hollier from Whangamata Baptist Church. Thank you, Greg)