“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered”. LK.2:4-6NKJV
Joseph and Mary were outside Bethlehem, the many days on the road over. God, may His Name be ever praised, had seen to their needs and the travel had been uneventful. Joseph looked at his wife, “oh dear,… you do look rather uncomfortable…”
“Joseph?” she called. “Why haven’t we seen your family yet?”
“I don’t know Mary.” he answered. He was a little concerned, if only he could bump into one of them, they could share space, but no luck.
“Of course the city is going to be awfully crowded with everyone coming in to be registered. First things first, we have to find someplace where we can stay. Then we’ll probably run into someone we know when we go get registered. We can always pack up and move again”.
“Joseph, the only thing moving around here is this child. If we find someplace we’re staying put. Oh how I wish the child would settle, my back hurts, my feet hurt…” “… and my head hurts from all this thinking” thought Joseph, “a place, Lord? Please…somewhere for Your Son”
And so Joseph made his way off to the side of the roadway. A blanket and two poles later, Joseph helped Mary to be seated under the shade by the cart.
“You do look so tired Mary. Here, you take some food and rest. I’ll go on ahead and see what can be found close to here.”
“Joseph, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get backup”, she argued.
“Well good, then you’ll just have to rest then won’t you. Look, I’m going over there to that family and see if they would watch over here- just a minute…” And Joseph went over to the other side of the road where he had seen an older man and woman with two others. Obviously pilgrims like them, he thought, they would surely afford Mary a little more security.
Next thing Mary knew she looked up to see a little group of people headed towards her. “oh Lord, now what has Joseph done?”
“Mary, these folks are going to stay with you, while I find us a place, and…” But before he could finish his words the woman knelt down and placed her hand on Mary’s shoulder.
“Oh dear, dear… any time now isn’t it? Tell me about your…” she asked.
“You’re free to go now son, my Hanna will be all about your wife. But look, finding someplace is going to be extremely difficult. Why do you think we’re camped here on the roadside?” the man offered.
“I know,” replied Joseph, “but surely HE, whose name should not be spoken, He will provide.”
“Well, if you’re on such intimate terms with HIM, have Him find us someplace too…”
With the mountains all around Bethlehem, a caravan could be easy to spot. Find a group of animals, and you’ve probably found a place of resting. Certainly this would be no Holiday Inn by any means, but it did afford some security. Within these walls the caravans could stop from their travels, find rest, use a common well and even see to a little commerce.
God would provide, and He most certainly did. We look upon Christ’s birth in such a place as being so unkind for the Savior of the world. In reality it made perfect sense. And such places were actually preferred, for what they offered.
Within the cave, they would be sheltered. The animals in the front room of the chamber would lend their heat to their guests in the back. Such caves were called mangers. And in this manger there was no rain, and no prying eyes or sideways glances from strangers when the labor of Mary would begin.
To Joseph and Mary, what God had provided for them was more than enough. It just incredible to think that as God became flesh and dwelt amongst us, that such a place would be the throne room of the King.