It probably took Mary and Joseph nearly a week to travel the 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem due to Mary’s advanced pregnancy. Although the timing of the journey was inconvenient, perhaps it was a relief to get away from the wagging tongues at the village well and the old women counting the months on their fingers. Mary and Joseph were required to travel away from their hometown in order to register for the census that had been decreed by Caesar Augustus.
As Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem, the streets were teeming with a mass of humanity. It was in those moments while Mary was being jostled by the crowds that she felt the first of her labor pains. Perhaps her water broke on the crowded street, wetting her garment and the donkey on which she was riding.
Did she quietly whisper while in pain, “Joseph! Please find a place for me to rest!”
Joseph found nothing more than a cave ... a barn ... a stable in which to prepare for the quickly approaching arrival of their Son.
The stable was likely cramped with animals from the visiting crowds. It inevitably smelled of manure and urine, and I imagine Joseph’s difficulty in finding a clean spot in the hay. Perhaps a mouse or two scurried away in fear as Joseph cleared a space for Mary and slid a manger of hay closer for coming Baby. The cows munched on their hay and the sheep bleated as Mary labored and bled. It was into this ignoble and earthy atmosphere that the Savior of mankind entered the world!
My heart stops as I picture the enchanted face of this teenage mother meeting her baby Boy for the very first time! She was gazing into the face of God ... and He was looking back at her. God had wrapped his tiny hand around her finger and around her heart as well.
He was her Son ... yet her Lord. He was her Baby ... yet her King.
She could not take her eyes off of Him, so great was her love for this Child. And the greatest miracle of all ... was that He could not take His eyes off of her so great was His love for mankind.
Don’t take your eyes off of the true meaning of Christmas. Know that when Jesus was born ... He was born for you. Allow the Baby in the manger to wrap His love around your heart.