I have grown a little too talented over the years with worrying more about my to do list than a need in front of me. It’s a problem. As I imagined Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem, I imagine the chaos that must have been this town with everyone coming home. Rome wanted to account for its citizens, and Joseph and Mary returned to the home of their ancestor, King David. Little did Rome know that they played a part in fulfilling prophecy of where Jesus would be born. Can you imagine the inn keepers trying to keep up with the guests, so busy that they had to turn people away? I imagine this woman busy with her task list but feeling a tug at the plight of this teenage girl. Maybe that’s why they ended up in a stable instead of the street. When Jesus arrived, the task list became irrelevant. When Jesus is our focus, our only response is to fall at His feet in worship. Enjoy the story of the inn keeper’s wife.
I was a little girl at my grandmother’s knee when I first heard of Messiah, a King to come. I grew up hoping, praying He would arrive. But instead, we got Rome. Rome and their obsession with money, power, and control. Rome with their foreign gods, laws, and oppression. Hope of a King to come grew dim.
As an old woman, that hope has virtually faded. My husband and I run an inn in Bethlehem, the home of King David. If the scriptures are to be believed, Messiah will come from his line. But so far, we’ve had no rescue. I feel so much like the Egyptians crying out for a deliverer. Where is He?
With the census, another oppression of our Roman government, our inn is overflowing with families coming home to be registered. I hired extra help to aid our guests. Miriam is a sweet girl, but it is difficult to keep up with the demands of an inn – washing linens, cooking, and cleaning. Everyone is so dirty having traveled so far.
But tonight, tonight felt different. An unearthly glow seemed to hover over Bethlehem. This evening a young couple knocked on our door. The poor girl bent over a protruding belly, her husband’s arm supporting her. I knew the baby would come soon, but we had no room. No room anywhere in Bethlehem. This shouldn’t be my problem. I was busy helping my husband run our home, our livelihood. They should have come sooner. They couldn’t even pay. But yet. Yet, I talked to my husband and walked them out to the only place she could lay her head. Our filthy stable. Young Jacob cleaned it just this afternoon, but still, it is no place for a woman with child. No place for a baby.
But something deep within me nudged at my heart. I turned dinner over to Miriam as I hurried to the closet, grabbing as much fresh linen as I could spare. She would need something. Anything. I prayed to the God of Jacob to give her a safe delivery. Ach, I remember when I was that young and with child. Full of hope. Full of faith in Messiah.
I hurried back to the stable. Night had descended and the cattle lowed from within. The smell hit me as a entered the cave and then, the sweetest cry and I stopped. I heard the man exclaim. “He’s here, my love. And he’s healthy and whole. Yeshua. Jesus, the angel told us to call him.”
Yeshua? Angel? I shoved away my questions as I rushed forward with the linens and helped clean up the babe. His cries quieted and my heart leapt within me. A new babe. A new life. On this night of all nights. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this child had a story. I handed the sweet bundle back to his mother and turned to leave the stable and return to my guests. Then shepherds arrived and filled the cave. They were smelly and dirty, and shouldn’t be around the babe.
But one fell on his knees. “Immanuel,” he cried with tears streaming down his face. And I heard the rest begin to worship. Could it be? Messiah? My heart stuttered as I heard their tale of angels from glory announcing the arrival of our King. I knew that that nudge deep in my heart was the God of the heavens urging me to do my part.
I slumped to my knees and joined in their worship. My hope, my Messiah born in my dusty stable.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Christmas Through a Different Lens.