Could you imagine going to your hometown and your own family doesn’t even have a place for you to sleep? Add a layer to the story: You are newly married with only the bare essentials. Let’s add another part to the equation: Your wife is pregnant and you are trying to provide for the three of you. You think your family will accept your wife and having a place to stay won’t be a big deal. You have had parties before and people have stayed over – surely they would give you a place to rest for the night.
Needless to say, I am taking about Joseph and Mary. Joseph was going to his hometown. He was told that he had to be counted in a census. This usually meant that there would be an increase of taxes or a new law. So Joseph and Mary pack up a few things and head out to Bethlehem – the house of bread. The only problem is: There is no bread. As Joseph searches for a place to stay, everyone turns him down. Since everyone is back home, all the rooms are taken. All the grandchildren and relatives are in town for a long weekend. Joseph must have been stressed out.
As they finally approach the time for Mary to give birth, Joseph goes into overdrive. I wonder where the doctor was. Surely someone will open up for them. Nobody would turn down a woman who is in desperate need of medical attention would they? I always think of that story Jesus tells later in His ministry about a man who is in need of bread for a friend who showed up late one evening. Since the man had nothing for his friend, he goes next door and bangs on the friend’s door and asks for something to eat. The neighbor responds by telling him to go away. It is late after all and the kids are in bed. The man is persistent though and eventually gets what he needs for his late visitor.
Having nowhere else to go, Joseph found a small cave where animals were kept and attempted to put together a decent place for Mary to deliver a child. What a disgrace. How on earth could the Son of God be born in a place like this? The smell must have been unbearable. Animal droppings probably littered the cave. Having no other choice, Joseph helped his wife give birth to a Son. I wonder if the people could hear Mary screaming as she gave birth. I wonder if the people that told them they had no room for them heard her cry as she delivered her baby. They probably had no clue what was happening in a cave right outside their doors.
Now they needed to clean the baby. All they had were a few stripes of cloth. They would be able to clean the baby well but the baby would be cold. They had no choice but to wrap the baby in stripes of cloth like the ones used to clean him. Tired from the delivery, I have no doubt that Mary just wanted to sleep. She had to nurse her new baby though. Babies are hungry – sometimes more than adults. After a proper feeding, the baby would be put down to sleep. Placing a kiss on His forehead, Mary placed Jesus in a feeding trough. It wasn’t the best of circumstances, but they did what they could. As Jesus was sleeping, Mary could count His toes and His fingers. She could hear Him breath and listen to His heartbeat. With tear in her eyes, I wonder what she pondered in her heart.
The story says that a “great light – a star” stood over them. In my personal opinion, I don’t think it was a “star” like you and I see in the sky – like the North Star. I believe it was a manifestation of God that overshadowed the Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Once again, I can’t prove it. I can only suggest it. In the Old Testament, a “cloud of smoke” led the people out of Egypt by day and a “pillar of fire” led them by night. These were manifestations of God though. I don’t think the “star” was a comet, like I have read other people suggest. I really believe it was a manifestation of God that overlooked and protected His own Son.
Our next post will include the Shepherds and the Wise Men (who didn’t show up for at least 2 years after Christ was born). Then we will celebrate a day when we recognize that Christ was born to save the world and reconcile all things to the Father. I hope these Christmas Story posts have been worth your while to read as it has been for me to write them. God bless.