The donkey opened his mouth wide, “Braaaaaaay,” he called across the caravan. He flapped his long ears from side to side as he walked behind his master, the man who had saved him from certain death. The man who gave him food, water, home and a name.
“Come along Burdy,” said Joseph to the donkey he had saved from certain death just months ago. Though Joseph never admitted it, he had grown very attached to the animal. Joseph looked back at Burdy loaded with the things he and Mary needed for a five day travel to Bethlehem. Beside Burdy, an older donkey carried Mary, her abdomen large with child.
“What a time for a census to be taken,” Joseph thought to himself. He looked behind him for the hundredth time. He had made the decision to take Mary with him. A decision he questioned over and over in his head. “What was I thinking,” he kept questioning himself. But Mary had few, if any friends in his household and around the area. “Gossipers,” he said aloud but under his breath. They didn’t know what they were talking about. He looked back at Mary again.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.Luke 2:1-5
“Are you alright,” he asked Mary who sat upon the donkey, both feet dangling over to one side.
Mary gave Joseph a girlish look of reprimand. “I am fine Joseph. You have padded the back of this donkey enough for a queen.”
“A queen would not be riding a donkey,” replied Joseph.
“Well, if she had you as her betrothed who took such good care of her, she certainly should,” Mary responded.
Mary swayed with the gait of the donkey, one hand on the pummel of the saddle, the other on her abdomen. She was certainly uncomfortable, but she would not let on to Joseph. She didn’t want to be left behind. And somehow both of them knew that this was the right decision. She had to go. This was a difficult thing to do. To travel at this stage of pregnancy. But the strong clarity that Mary must go with Joseph was so evident to both of them, they could not deny it was the right thing to do.
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.Luke 2: 6
Four days of travel in Mary’s condition was taking its toll on her. Her feet were swollen in their dangling position. She felt tired and ill. She laid down on the padded pallet Joseph had made for her. She just wanted to sleep. Every muscle, every part of her felt exhausted. She closed her eyes.
“Mary.” She heard Joseph call her name with such tenderness. Did Joseph know he was showing the tenderness of God to her every time he spoke to her with love? Did Joseph know Mary felt God’s protection every time he stood up to gossips in her defense? Could Joseph understand how his words and tone with which he said things gave her the courage to get through the days?
Mary opened her eyes to see that Joseph had a warm plate of food for her. Another family of travelers had seen the two of them during the day and brought them both a hearty fresh cooked meal. Mary was too tired to ask just how that all transpired. She knew she needed to eat to keep up her strength. They had another day of travel hoping to arrive by evening.
It was mid-morning the next day when Mary spotted her friend. “Susanna!” Mary exclaimed looking to Susanna and her father Gad who was also making the journey to Bethlehem. Upon hearing her name called out, Susanna turned and saw Mary and Joseph. She approached Mary and the two women hugged tight. It felt good to have female companionship.
“Mary, you should be up on that donkey,” Susanna chided.
“I just had to walk for little while. I’ve been on the donkey so much, I think I’m becoming part of it,” Mary teased. “But, I must admit I’m ready to ride some more now after walking.
Mary and Susanna traveled the rest of the day together. Mary asked about Elizabeth and the baby, John, to which Susanna was happy to tell Mary all about. Susanna’s father, Gad, walked and talked with Joseph. Gad was amazed to see how Burdy had healed so well and the two men talked of census politics and business.
By sundown the four of them walked through Bethlehem. They had already been to several of known places to stay and had been turned away. Joseph was in conversation with another man about staying in their guest room when Susanna interrupted the conversation.
Susanna had noted Mary holding her abdomen with greater care at times. She also noted Mary had ceased most all conversation and her face was etched with….worry…or was that…pain.
“Joseph, it may not be long before Mary delivers. We must find you shelter,” Susanna said.
Joseph stopped and turned to Mary. She only looked at him with concern. She didn’t know what to say or to think. She only knew she needed to be somewhere off of this donkey….soon.
Joseph pleaded with the man. The owner could see the urgency. “There is absolutely no place inside. People are stepping over each other already,” said the owner.
Joseph looked back at Mary again. She was being helped down from the donkey by Gad and Susanna. Mary held her abdomen, and bent over in pain that lasted a few minutes. Then Joseph looked around. There! He spotted it. There was no time to ask. He would demand. Mary would not give birth out here on the street.
“It looks as if the animals have more room than the people in this town. I need fresh hay and blankets. We are staying in the barn,” Joseph declared. They had been sleeping under the stars for the last four days, this would be private at least.
Joseph went to Mary and pointed the way to the barn. He put his arm around her to steady her walk. Gad took the donkeys as Susanna began giving orders for fresh water to be delivered immediately. The owner of the barn obeyed. What else could he do?
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and place him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.Luke 2:7
Heaven began to rejoice! “Holy, Holy, Holy,” the angels proclaimed in beautiful harmony. “If only men everywhere understood the great gift it is about to receive. A few of the angels approached the Throne Room of God. They asked permission to proclaim the presence of the Messiah, of God come to man, to the whole world. “Let us tell them,” they pleaded.
God the Father in His wisdom knew and carried out His plan. He would grant the request this way: “You may proclaim it only to the shepherds in the field that lies just outside of town,” The Father told them. “The world had wisdom to gain by the shepherd, and I shall give the despised shepherds a great significance.”
The angels bowed low in reverence and love. If only man could know the Father’s great love for them….And one by one they followed the other to where the shepherds were watching their sheep. As the angels came to where the shepherds were, they decided not to overwhelm the shepherds and sent one of their number to give the message to them.
And there were shepherds living out in th fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Luke 2:8-12
At this announcement the host of angels could not contain themselves. They had to praise God. He was so good and the shepherds and all people must know of it.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,”Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”Luke 2:14
Dear Reader, Merry CHRIST IS BORN! What a great Savior we have. If you don’t know Him, I mean really know him, please call on His name today. Jesus longs to reveal himself to you. All you have to do is come to Him in prayer, in repentance, in belief and begin a journey that is eternal life in Him. I hope you have enjoyed reading this story. Of course, this is the way I have imagined it to go. But you must know the Holy Bible is true and truth. All scripture is the inspired word of God. Call upon Him today.
Categories: A Christmas Story