Tag Archives: Bethlehem

The Baby King (part 2 of 2)

Six months later

“I’m sorry, Mary, but it’s true.” Joseph frowned. “I have to go to Bethlehem.” A fresh wave of disgust for the Romans roiled his stomach. “I have no choice.”

“We have no choice,” Mary said.

Joseph reached across the small wooden table until the tips of his fingers touched Mary’s hand. Their eyes met. “It’s such a long journey, Mary. And the nights will be cold…especially if we don’t find good shelter along the way.”

Mary brushed a strand of black hair from her forehead. “But we will be safe.”

“And together,” Joseph said. He’d hoped that Mary would want to go, but would have kept that wish to himself had she decided to stay in Nazareth with her parents. But she would be coming with him. As he gazed at his beloved, he wondered if his grin was as wide as hers.

Four┬ádays later, as dusk signaled the end of another wearisome day of dusty trails and wind-swept wilderness, Joseph turned and looked again at Mary. The donkey on which Mary rode plodded along, swaying her back and forth. She smiled at Joseph, her hand gently rubbing her large belly. She has to be exhausted and sore, Joseph thought. Yet there was a glow on her face, as though her soul was ablaze with the glory of the Messiah that lay in the sanctuary of her womb. “We’re almost there. I’ll find you a place to sleep soon,” Joseph said.

But when he guided the donkey into Bethlehem, his heart sank. The streets teemed with pilgrims, the city bloated beyond anything he’d imagined.

“Where will we stay, Joseph?” Mary’s voice barely able to rise above the racket coming assaulting Joseph’s ears from every direction.

Without taking his eyes of the shifting sea of humanity flooding the narrow marketplace directly on front of them, Joseph swallowed hard. “I will find a place. I promise.” He stepped back and patted Mary’s arm, his eyes still taking in the chaos surrounding them.

“I hope so. I think the baby is coming soon.”

Several hours later, Joseph sat on the dirt floor and stared at the miracle cradled in the crook of his arm. Light, from a small fire, danced across the perfect face of the waking baby. Joseph gently stroked the small cheeks, then caressed the tiny hand that wiggled free from under the strips of cloth. Joseph placed his forefinger across the boy’s soft palm, feeling a rush of astonishment when the tiny hand grasped his finger.

The Messiah was holding his hand.

Joseph walked over to the feeding trough, carefully laid Jesus on the straw bedding. Then he sat down next to Mary and watched her as she slept. Her lips moved slightly, and Joseph leaned over in time to hear her whisper, “Jesus.” He smiled as he remembered the look that had filled her eyes only moments earlier when excited shepherds had spoken about the angel’s message. A heavenly declaration that had sent the shepherds in search of a newborn baby–“a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Joseph glanced from mother to baby, and wondered what the future held for each of them. The report from the shepherds had sent his mind racing down paths that held more questions than answers. And now, in the stillness of the Bethlehem night, Joseph pondered how this baby would save His people from their sins.

Then, from across the manger, he heard the bleating of a newborn lamb.

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Friends, I wish you a Merry Christmas. As we look at our nativity scenes, may we never forget that Jesus was born…to die. The Lamb of God came to give Himself as the perfect sacrifice for you and me. Thank God for His wonderful gift.

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