The sun had just disappeared behind the hills when they arrived at the Gates of Bethlehem. Joseph was very much concerned for his young wife. Mary has been fidgeting for the past hour or so. He can’t be sure because she has always been a woman of less word. Riding on the back of a donkey traveling on a rocky road is no help at all. She knew that the time for the baby to be born is near. To take her mind away from the pain, she pondered over the Angel’s visit nine months ago. As if they were reading each other’s minds, Joseph was reflecting on the vision of the Angel in his dream. Engrossed in their own thoughts, they both marveled in the mystery of the child in Mary’s womb. [restrict]
When they passed through Jerusalem, the bustling crowd in the city was too much for them. They’re from the northern part of Israel in a little village named Nazareth. Mostly uneducated manual workers like farmers, shepherds, and handful of carpenters. Most of their earnings were given to Tax Collectors. They had a peculiar accent, and darker skin. Men had long hair and wore beard. Mary was sitting on a bench with her head leaning back on the wall. She was glad to be still at least for an hour or so as she waited for Joseph to return. Joseph was always running about looking for work to make some money so they can have food for the night. She closed her eyes to rest when she heard two women talking and giggling nearby. One of them said something about her (Mary) being from the north. Another talked about her worn out clothes and her wooden shoes. Mary learned as a little girl not to be disturbed by what people said about her. She opened her eyes and looked down at her shoes. She smiled to herself remembering how bashful Joseph was when he gave her the shoes. How he blushed when he showed Mary the tiny red pomegranates he painted on them. They were her only pair. She wore them for the first time to the last Passover Feast. She wore them on this trip being a special occasion and being with Joseph. Oh, how she beamed with delight when Joseph told her that he liked her. She sang quietly, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”
The Inn Keeper at the last motel on the road told Joseph that there was no room available, but there was a cave in the back, where the animals are kept. “You can rest there for the night.”
A tour bus stopped at a small rest area in Louisiana, on its way to New Orleans. One of the tourists saw an older man sitting on a park bench so he walked over.
“Good afternoon, Sir! Are you from here?” asked the tourist.
“Born and raised!” replied the old man with indifference.
“Any great men born here?”
“None. Only babies are born here!” answered the old man.
I’ve always been curious about the life of Jesus between age 12 and age 30 when he left home to accomplish his mission. There is really none written on that period except that he probably spent most of his life in and around the farming village area of Nazareth. Similar to many farming villages throughout the world, life was patterned after traditions, roles and rituals passed down from many generations beforehand. Tradition tells us that Joseph must have died when Jesus was about 18 years of age that left Jesus as the sole caregiver of the family. And Joseph taught him his first psalm and took him to the synagogue to worship, and to study Torah when he turned ten.
Torah is translated “law” – the source of all learning – religion, history, and ethics. Torah included the first five books of the modern Bible, (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Traditionally, Joseph died just about the time Jesus finished his study in the local synagogue.
The old man from Louisiana was right. No great man or woman is born anywhere, not even in Bethlehem. However, a young man in his prime left Nazareth and walked to do what he was born to do. Yes, Jesus grew up! Babies can’t do anything… they are dependent on their parents just as Jesus was – fully human.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he was born. But I do rejoice even more in the life He lived, the death He died, and the accomplishment of His resurrection! While the world remembers a baby in a manger, let our remembrance of His death every first day of the week help us to look to the Man, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the year! For when you see Jesus in action, you are watching LOVE.
I know he adored his mother that while he was dying on the cross he arranged for her care. [/restrict]