by Sharon M. Kennedy
If you don’t have money, you don’t ask for a room at the inn. If you’re poor, you don’t pay taxes on earned income because you didn’t earn any. You don’t ride a donkey because you can’t afford an animal. If you travel a long distance to honor a king, you don’t arrive in a few hours unless you fly by jet.
Now, don’t get excited. It’s all right there in the Bible if we use our imagination and fill in the gaps. Scripture says Mary and Joseph left Nazareth for Bethlehem which was 70-90 miles away where they registered for the census. Joe also had to pay taxes on whatever income he had earned from his carpentry business. Apparently it was mandatory that Mary accompany him instead of staying home where she belonged. After riding four days on the donkey, which was equivalent to a Cadillac in modern terms, Mary was in heavy labor.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, Joe went to the nearest inn and asked for a room. Hiram, the innkeeper, said he was sorry, but there was no room because the town was crawling with people who came home to be counted and pay their taxes. However, he offered Joe a warm barn connected to the inn if that would suffice. Mary yelled and said she didn’t care where she gave birth. She just wanted off that donkey.
Hiram hollered to his wife, Ruth, and told her to boil water and rally the women. Joe helped Mary off the animal and carried her into the stable. The ladies told him to scram and they took over. Hiram offered Joe a jug of wine to steady his nerves. Meanwhile, Mary was screaming and the cattle were bawling due to all the commotion. Mary called for her mother, but Ann wasn’t there. She stayed home because she was upset her teenage daughter was having a child out of wedlock.
Ruth warmed the clothing Mary had brought. It was a fast birth as she had been in labor for hours but didn’t want to have her baby alongside the road. Once Jesus was born, he cried as most newborns do. The women bathed him. Ruth wrapped him in swaddling clothes and handed him to Mary. Laying him in a manger on scratchy hay would have made no sense to the attending women. Jesus snuggled next to his mother. She breastfed him, giving him nourishment, warmth and affection. Once the women had cleaned up the mess and Mary was settled, Joe was allowed in to admire the child that wasn’t his. Perhaps he had mixed feelings.
That’s my rendition of the immaculate birth. Now, on to the visitors. Scripture says wise men saw a star in the east, signaling a momentous event. The song says they traveled afar. We don’t know how far, but there’s no reason to believe they arrived that night. The Good Book says they found the child in a house on his mother’s lap. Herod was outraged and demanded all male children two years and younger be slaughtered. Obviously, Jesus wasn’t an infant. If you’re upset at my interpretation consider this: Until I read the Bible, my idea of the birth of Christ came from images on Christmas cards.
One more observation. Why do we stick baby Jesus in a manger every Dec.? He’s a mature king now, and one day He will return. Are you ready?