The road was hot and her back ached. She could feel the baby low in her belly. She sat alone on the donkey as Joseph went to check for any available space. She just wanted to be done with the trip, to find rest off of the back of this mule. She repeated the scriptures to ward off irritation and prayed fervently for reassurance and comfort. Joseph returned, ashamed to offer what little he could find for his new bride whom he knew was uncomfortable, but it was all he had to give.
They arrived at the stable, and he helped Mary descend off the donkey. Joseph unloaded the few things they brought with them and Mary praised God for shelter. At first she shrugged off the clenching tightness in her belly as a side-effect of long weary travel, but soon the pain intensified and cycled and she was aware of what would be – a baby in a barn, a saviour in the straw. She wondered why here Lord? Why now? But she had seen enough even at her young age to know that the Lord has plans that do not always follow the ways of man. As the pressure grew stornger, she began to fear and wonder if she could really do this. Joseph stayed near her side and her eyes searched his face for strength. His eyes were closed as he prayed for help from God. Mary could feel the baby pressing on, ready to enter this world and her flesh tore open – raw wound bringing life, the foreshadow of flesh yet to be torn, and life yet to be given. The piercing cry of this child broke the stifling silence in the stable. Mary and Joseph rejoiced. The baby who had emerged from the darkness of the womb, was wrapped in cloths and laid into a manger of wood. If Mary could see into her child’s future, she would see that many years later this same child would be laid on wood, wrapped in cloth and placed in the darkness of a tomb.
I ponder these things on this eve of Christmas – the Christ child coming to be our way home if we would just follow Him. I lay down my burdens, and cast aside my weariness to follow that baby from the cradle to the cross. But the story doesn’t end there. Three days after entering darkness he would emerge from that tomb of death and despair, bringing new life to all who trust in Him alone.
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ” Philippians 2:6-11
Blessings this Christmas Eve through the Christ-child come for the cross. May you find the peace and joy through Him alone.