The sun was descending over Bethlehem as shop keepers packed up their wares and families navigated their way home for the night. The streets were stuffed with travelers and every inn was full to capacity. People were tired. It had been a long week for many had come quite a distance to be here for the census.
What was usually a sleepy town, tonight felt stifling. But then, as the darkest of night fell and young and old gently dreamed, all the angels of Heaven focused their gaze over the tiny town. As silence rested over the streets, angels held their breath.
This was the moment they had been anticipating.
Many craned their necks to get a closer look at the woman in the stall. Her husband, Joseph, had frantically searched for a place for her to rest, but it was no use. The journey had taken them longer than anticipated since Mary was at the end of her pregnancy, so when they arrived, there was no room left anywhere, except here next to the cattle. The timing couldn't be worse.
This stall was the best he could do and a feeling of failure tried to wiggle its way into his heart. His first duty as a husband and soon-to-be father was to provide for his family, and he had failed. But as Mary's groans of labor increased, his heart remembered the promise he had received months ago.
"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20)
Mary lay unmoving for the moment, her face covered in sweat, her hair sticking to her forehead and her garments wrapped around her legs. Her moans had gotten stronger over the last hour as her baby moved down. As the latest contraction eased, she shifted to her side and reached for the nearest support. She found the side of the stall and maneuvered her way in to the back corner to rest her back.
A mixture of water and blood pooled beneath her as her belly hardened in yet another contraction. Her small, young body seemed so unprepared for this moment. She had watched many other women, relatives mostly, give birth but this felt nothing like she had anticipated. She longed for her own Mama to be by her side, or Elizabeth. She really liked Elizabeth.
Joseph and Mary hadn’t been intimate so this was the most exposed he had ever seen his new wife. He had done his best to protect her from scorn, but people talk. In this moment, seeing her body gripped in pain, he didn’t know what to do. So, he simply sat and hummed a song, a song a distant relative had once sung now passed down from one generation to the next.
From birth I was cast on you;
Mary shifted in her place and Joseph arranged more hay behind her.. As another contraction came upon her, she leaned her head back and caught a brief glimpse of the stars. They were so bright, as if staring at her.
The angels also leaned in a little closer now. Each wanting to see the eyes of the woman God had chosen to carry and care for His Son. She was so ordinary, they thought. God likes to do that – use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Hours passed and the world around the tiny barn got darker and the hours ticked over in to early morning. The sound of bleating sheep carried easily over the hills now and tickled Mary’s ears. Joseph struggled to keep a small fire going and Mary struggled to keep her composure. The final moments of labor were upon her. She knew the end would be the hardest. Her eyes met her husband’s and she simply nodded.
He left his meager fire and crawled to Mary. She leaned forward to give him room behind her and he let his body cradle hers. She leaned back against his chest for one small moment. She draped her arms over his knees on either side and took one long deep breath. Then she pushed. She tucked her chin and gripped her legs pulling herself forward.
Joseph could feel the sweat from her body seep through his shirt when she leaned back to catch her breath. She pushed again. She pushed through the pain. She pushed through the fear.
In the warm flickering of a tiny fire and the blue glow of the sparkling stars, Jesus was born. In an instant her pain was gone. Mary nestled her little son into her chest and their eyes met. He looked so common. She wasn’t sure what she had expected but she was surprised, nonetheless. He was small like other babies. He cried like other babies. And he attempted to nurse like other babies. But in her heart, Mary knew he wasn’t ordinary. He was her Savior and her son.
At the moment of His birth, the angels burst into the sky over some Shepherds on the other side of the hill. They sang and shouted and praised God! They even gave direction to the shepherds and told them exactly where they could find their King.
Meanwhile, Mary, knowing what needed to be done, tended to her tiny boy. As her body shook uncontrollably from the hours of labor, she carefully wrapped Jesus in a long narrow band of fabric and laid him in an animal trough near the fire. He slept. He slept peacefully as if knowing He would have work to do soon.
The next morning, as the sun began to peek over the hills and a rooster let out three loud calls, the town of Bethlehem woke without knowing that the Messiah was in their midst. They took no notice of the young mom who held tightly to the baby on her chest or the young man who led her by the arm for support.
As the crowds pushed up against them, they didn’t realize that they had just brushed up against their Lord. But He knew. His hour had come. The time of redemption was at hand. After hundreds of years of silence, only thirty three more lay between this moment and SALVATION.
The above lines are extremely imaginary. Obviously, I don’t know where Joseph sat or if he made a fire, etc. The Bible doesn’t give us these details. Isn’t it great these imaginations our Lord has given us.
Free Download: Isaiah 43 "Redeemed You" Printable
(Frameable) when you sign up to receive my blog posts!