I wonder what Mary was thinking about along the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
In her last month of pregnancy, Mary spent over a week on the back of a donkey as she and Joseph journeyed the 80 miles to Joseph’s homeland to register for the census.
You’d think that Cesar might cut the girl a break and let them mail in their registration. But, no.
Eighty miles on an unpaved, primitive road riding on a donkey!
So often we think of Mary as a woman having a child. But, she was little more than a child herself, around 13. If a 13-year-old gets pregnant these days, it’s scandal. For Mary, the only scandal she faced was her swollen abdomen before the marriage was sealed. That’s a pretty big “only.” The man she had vowed to be faithful to for the rest of her life could have stoned her to death.
“But before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”
Mary often gets all the credit, and let’s face it, she should. If you’ve birthed a child, you know it’s about the hardest thing a woman can do. But, Joseph is kind of a hero here too. He must have been so angry and hurt and confused and dejected. The hours in between finding out his future wife is pregnant and a visit from an angel must have been agonizing.
“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
He was going to divorce her quietly. He finally decided. He would spare her life, and write her out of his. I wonder what he was doing before the angel came to him in a dream. Was he still nursing his wounded ego, or had he thrown himself into his work?
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”
What a guy. What faith it took to believe something so outlandish. Pregnant by the Holy Spirit. It had to have been the craziest thing Joseph had ever heard. But, he took her home, only to find out he had to take her, eight months pregnant, 80 miles away to Bethlehem.
I wonder if the trip was awkward at first. “So, thanks for not stoning me…” Did they talk about parenting philosophies or discipline methods? They didn’t have to think of what to call him. “His name shall be Jesus.”
Eighty miles on foot. Under the best conditions they could cover 20 miles in a day. But so many things could have slowed them down – weather, terrain, pregnancy. It likely took them over a week.
What was Mary thinking about this whole time? She accepted the angel’s message without hesitation. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered, “May it be to me as you have said.” Was there ever any doubts in her mind? Was she scared?
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.”
A 13-year-old girl stood in a stranger’s stable, about to give birth to the Savior of the world. With every pang of birth pains, she knew there was no going back. Did she want to? Was she ready?
“She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.”
Was it one of those fast, easy births I’ve heard rumors of? Or did she labor for hours? Ever since becoming a mother myself, I’ve wondered about the details of Jesus’s birth. How did Mary feel about birthing her Savior in a barn? As she looked at her son for the first time, was she instantly captivated by him? Or, did it take a while for the bonding process like with some mothers and children?
There are so many unknowns about the birth of Jesus, so many details I hope I’ll hear about in Heaven someday. But, there are some things we do know — important things. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Do you need to hear that again? He will save His people from their sins. From your sins. From my sins.
My friends, He did what He came to do. It is finished. You have been saved from your sins.
The love of Jesus is unconditional. He gives it freely. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to be “good enough.” You, in whatever varying state of sin you find yourself in, are loved.
Praise the Lord!
Just as you are. Just where you are. He’s waiting for you to turn your eyes and look full in His wonderful face. He’s waiting for you to accept the gift He’s been holding out to you. Take it. Don’t be shy. Accept His love. Accept His sacrifice. Accept your Savior.
Today, as you unwrap presents, fellowship with friends and family, and partake of the bounty of blessings you might have, do so with the full knowledge that your Savior came to this earth for you. He was born so that you can live forever with Him. Your heart is the most precious gift you can give to Him. Won’t you give yourself to Him today?
**To read the story of Jesus’s birth for yourself, look in the book of Luke, chapters one and two. You’ll also find stories from Jesus’s life and ministry on Earth, as well as His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. The Bible is available for free online and in the app market for smart phones.**
(This is an encore blog post. It was originally written and posted by Cas Anderson on December 25, 2013.)