Shortly before the birth of Jesus Christ an order went out from Rome, commanding a registration of the people – in all kingdoms and provinces belonging to the empire – to be taxed. This registration should probably be understood as a registration, in which a census of Roman subjects were secured, which would constitute the basis for the taxation of the peoples would be determined.

Had the census been done using the Roman method, every person would have been registered at the town where they did reside. But by the Jewish custom the registration should be made in the city or town claimed by the respective families as their ancestral homes. The Roman law had respect for the Jewish way of doing things, so they went along with the Jewish custom.

It is quite clear that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, the city of David, to be counted in accordance with the emperors command. The little town was very crowded at the time, due to the gathering of the census. This made it impossible for Joseph and Mary to find good accommodations, so they had to be content with the conditions of an improvised camp, as travelers un-numbered had done before and after this event, in that region and elsewhere.

The Birth of Jesus Christ. We cannot reasonably regard this circumstance as evidence of extreme destitution. It probably was an inconvenience, but it gives us no reason to think that she experienced great distress or suffering. It was while in this situation that Mary – the Virgin – gave birth to her firstborn, the Son of the Highest, the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father. And so it was at the birth of Jesus Christ.