Most likely, it took Mary and Joseph nearly a week to travel the 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem due to Mary’s advanced pregnancy.
Use all of your creative and imaginative abilities to picture the very young Mary at 9 months pregnant, riding on the back of a donkey. For 80 long miles, Mary was jostled, bumped and jolted in her advanced condition. Mary experienced the uncomfortable pain of every rut from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Her back ached … her feet were swollen … and her heart was tired.
Although the timing of the journey was inconvenient, perhaps it was a relief for Mary and Joseph to escape the wagging tongues at the village well and the insensitivity of the old women who were 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 squeezed and joggled by the enormous 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 King of Creation would make his earthly entrance among the animals that He and His had created and that Adam, the first human being, had named.
There was no red carpet laid out in anticipation of his arrival nor were the conditions sanitary or even welcoming.
Jesus was born among filth, dirt and excrement.
The smelly stable was rife with manure and unkempt animals; the hard ground was saturated with the urine of the barnyard creatures and the clean hay was sparse. Cobwebs were drooping from the ceiling while a mouse or two scurried by in fear.
The cows were munching on the pungent hay and sheep were sadly looking on as Mary labored and bled.
It was into this putrid atmosphere of mankind that the Savior entered the world!
My heart stops as I picture the enchanted face of the teen- age 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.
The God who had invaded our filth instantly captivated a mere girl who would serve as His earthly mother.
He was deeply in love with her. He couldn’t stop gazing into her joyful eyes.
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 Majesty.
Mary was spellbound not only by the ten tiny fingers and the ten miniature toes, but she was spellbound by the very presence of God.
God had come to earth! The miracle of joy had a name. Joy’s name is Jesus.
Who did this little person look like? Did He have Mary’s father’s nose? Or did He display Joseph’s father’s ears?
What we do know is that he came equipped with the heart of God.
What we do know is that He came with healing in His infant heart.
What we do know is that He who is “Love” personified came because of His great love for those of us who live among the dirt and manure of sin.
What we do know is that with Him … He brought heaven’s joy!
Mary could not take her eyes off of her baby Boy so great was her love for this heaven-sent Child.
And the most amazing miracle of all was that the infant Savior could not take His eyes off of His young mother, a living, breathing specimen of the world that He came to save!
And He hasn’t stopped loving us … or looking at us since. It started with Mary … but it continues to you.
Don’t take your eyes off of the true meaning of Christmas. Know that when Jesus was born ... He was born for you. He was born to you. He was born because of you.
He longs to be born in you!
It doesn’t matter what your circumstances might be or what filth He has found you in. He came simply to love you.
Love has come. Love has a name. Love’s name is Jesus.
This Christmas, and every day of the coming year, allow the Baby in the manger to wrap his love around your heart. Invite Him to be born in you!
If you have never prayed this prayer, I’d like to invite you to pray it this year and to receive the greatest Christmas gift of all time:
“Jesus, I recognize you as the Savior of the world. Father God, thank You for sending Jesus into my dark and cold world. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus, will you forgive me of my sins and come into my heart today? Thank You for living in me and for one day taking me to heaven to live with You for all of eternity! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Merry Christmas, my friend! Joy has come to our world! Let there be joy!