And the time came for the prophecies to unfold…
On the road to Bethlehem. The smells of the dusty road and the donkey beneath her nauseate the young, pregnant girl named Mary.
But the aromas do not detract from the beauty of the sights and sounds surrounding her. The green fertile hills. The billowing clouds against an azure sky. The olive, fig, and pine trees vibrating with a songfest of birds. The familiar colors and shape of her betrothed Joseph as the sun rays highlight him walking ahead of her, holding the end of the rope tied to the donkey.
The sun warms her body as her love for Joseph warms her heart. She smiles a loving smile.
The donkey stumbles. “Ooo!” She winces.
“Are you okay, Mary?” asks Joseph.
“I’m fine, Joseph. How much longer?”
“Not much longer. We’re almost there. Do you want to stop for a while?”
“No, I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
She isn’t really fine. Nine months pregnant and bouncing up and down on a donkey do not mix. But it must be done. They must go to Bethlehem to register for the census according to Caesar Augustus’ decree.
Mary rides in silence. Her mind wanders back over the last nine months.
She remembers gazing out her window at the star-studded sky as she contemplated marriage to her betrothed Joseph. The stillness broken by an abrupt entry of a figure before her.
Frightened so, almost as if her heart would stop, she gasped. An angel stood before her, pronouncing she was the favored one prophesied to deliver the Christ Child.
Me? Why am I the favored one? Me? The mother of the Son of God? The fulfillment of prophecy falls on me? I do not know a man. How can this be?
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…For with God nothing will be impossible.”
I’m betrothed to Joseph. What will others say? I’ll be ostracized. Even worse. I’ll be stoned as the Law commands. What will happen to me?
Shaking her head as if to awaken herself, she rehearses the angel’s words to ward off her fears, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Do not be afraid, Mary.
And the time came…
Now in Bethlehem, Joseph knocks on door after door, pleading with the occupants for a room for his wife who is about to deliver the baby. Each request is turned down until a stable is offered where they can stay.
Mary sits on a bale of hay as she watches Joseph ready a bed of hay for her and then another one in a trough. Is this fit for the King of heaven? Not exactly what I had in mind. But I’m grateful.
The gentle sounds of the cattle lowing, the sheep bleating, and the donkeys braying somehow soothe her frazzled nerves.
Darkness has now swallowed up the day. One unusual star emblazons the eastern sky, one divinely-appointed beam of light illuminating the entrance to this humble stable.
And the time came…
Suddenly, the cries of a newborn rise above all the other sounds and join the celestial singers filling the firmament with praise.
And in the lowly stable, Mary lovingly swaddles the future Sacrifice of the world. This breath of heaven rests in her arms. Oh, my Lord. I am so frightened.
She counts ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. She caresses His rosy cheeks and kisses the top of His fuzzy head.
She cuddles Him to her breast and hums softly to ease His crying.
Oh, my God, ease my fears and be my guide as I learn to mother Your Son.
She presses down the thoughts of other prophecies, those foretelling of her son’s demise. She locks away the future in her heart for another day. This day is for celebrating.
She lays Him in the manger and kneels on the hay beside Him, her heart so full it just may explode.
Curious shepherds from the fields, following the beam of light, seek the site of this wondrous event told to them by the angels. Finding their way to the stable, they discover the Babe of Bethlehem.
Oh, my! Company already?
As the shepherds gather around the manger to see the Christ Child, the animals move closer to sniff at this strange little wonder now occupying their trough.
And the time came…
Secreted behind the veil of eternity. God now here in Person. The Ancient of times. Jehovah-shammah…Immanuel…God with us.
The collision of Divinity and humanity! Heaven’s Temple entered earth to give those on earth an entrance into heaven’s Temple. He came, confined by the boundaries of time and limitations of a physical body.
He threw off His robe of celestial royalty and dressed Himself in a tiny, pink suit of humanity, and from the birth-manger to the death-tomb, His flesh dwelt among us.
And when the time came…
Mary pondered it all in her heart. May the Lord be praised! May it always be unto me according to Your Word!
“Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.”
(Scriptures taken from Matthew 1 and Luke 1 and 2 NKJV)