O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM 1 B.C.
THE LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM BY TREY RATCLIFF CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
The last nine months of Joseph's life has proved to be the most memorable time of his whole life! An Angel told him in a dream that his espoused wife, Mary, was impregnated by the Holy Spirit with Jesus the Savior of the world! He just finished walking a hundred miles to Bethlehem for a census when no sooner done Jesus entered the world inside a cave outside of Bethlehem. And then, that night, Angels appeared in the sky to the local shepherds announcing his son's birth so they filled the cave to worship Jesus.
The last of Joseph’s cob webs of doubt had spun enough courage for him to leave the cave long enough to go visit his younger sister on the east side of Bethlehem. Bethany was quite happy to see her brother after ten years. Unfortunately, she did not want to house the supposed Son of God. The disappointed brother hugged his sister goodbye and headed to the outskirts of Bethlehem where his aunt lived. Staying with Aunt Martha would be their only way to survive the cold winter months ahead. Nazareth was too far and it was too cold to travel back the 100 miles. He decided to not tell his aunt about his wife’s Immaculate Conception.
After visiting with his aunt Joseph hugged her goodbye. Mary would be worried about him being on the road alone so he moved hastily over the dusty path back to the little town of Bethlehem. The husband came alive at the sight of the distant cave and he ran home to Mary and Jesus with great haste.
“Mary! Mary! I’m back,” Joseph cried as he rushed inside the cave.
“Joseph!” Mary cried, “I’ve been so worried! I’m so glad you’re alive.”
“Sorry, it took so long,” he said as he kissed her cheek and brushed his thumb over the brow of his sleeping son. "How are you and the child?"
“We’re fine and just trying to stay warm in this cold, damp cave. Any success of finding us a house?”
“Yes, my love. My widowed aunt said we can come live with her.”
“Praise be to the Lord, but I thought your sister had the bigger house.”
“Well, she half-way believed our story, but she decided at the last minute she was too scared to house the Son of God.”
“You told her everything?”
“Yes, but not the details. I thought she would believe and be excited for us and welcome us in. She just had a baby, too, and maybe she thought it would be too much.”
“You didn’t tell your aunt about our miracle son, did you?”
“No, no, not yet since she is my only other relative who lives here. You will love her, Mary! Go ahead and bundle Jesus up while I pack the donkey.”
HANGING BY THE STABLE BY JOHN CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
Joseph’s aunt welcomed Mary and the baby with open arms into her little abode over-looking Bethlehem. She had already made ready the largest room in her house for Joseph and his family to live. It had a small window that faced the direction of the mountain where the Jewish temple stood that was built by Herod.
After Jesus fell asleep in Aunt Martha’s arms, Joseph grabbed Mary and a blanket to go up on the flat roof of the house. The giddy couple snuggled under the wool blanket to keep warm while they enjoyed the black sky full of sparkling diamonds. Looking straight up, Mary noticed how two large stars were so close to each other (really, two planets, Venus and Jupiter).
“Look, Joseph, at those two, huge stars. If they get any closer they will be kissing!”
He looked up and then back down at Mary’s beautiful lips. “You mean a kiss like this?” Joseph said as he turned her chin gently his way and kissed her. Even with nobody on the roof but them, Mary felt a bit self-conscious but she didn’t pull away from her husband. Joseph’s first kiss stirred something wonderful in the pit of her stomach.
BETHLEHEM BY JAMES COOPER CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
The brightness of the two stars coming together made Joseph think of a scripture he read from Numbers 24:17. He quoted it by heart to Mary:
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
“You see, Mary! The Lord has made a STAR for Jesus out of Jacob!” Joseph proclaimed. “Tonight, I can see how God uses two big stars to make one big star, but I don’t know why God is doing it.”
“I understand what you mean, Joseph. It makes me feel like something else special is going to happen. We’ll just have to wait and see. I understand the Sceptre part rising out of Israel discribes our Son but what does the scripture mean about destroying all the children of Sheth? That sounds morbid!”
December 25, 0 A.D. One Year & 3 Months Later
THE WISE MEN 27 WAITING FOR THE WORD CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
Mary and Joseph were up on the roof cuddling again under a blanket as they gazed up at the glorious, one huge star. The piercing wind made them decide to head back down into the house when they noticed a strange sight in the distance. Coming down the road toward the house were three fancy men riding on camels. Joseph let Mary slip inside the house while he waited to see what the men wanted. He grabbed a sharp tool from the carpentry shop.
He watched as the men lit off their camels and tied them to the juniper bushes. Each man lifted something out of their pouches that hung by their camel saddles. They walked slowly toward the house with their huge gifts held high in the air. Joseph’s heart thumped so hard he forgot to breathe. Are these rich kings coming to barter for Jesus with their expensive gifts?
THE WISE MEN 19 WAITING FOR THE WORD CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
They stopped twenty feet away from Joseph and bowed down on one knee. One of the men spoke, “Shalom. Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him. (pause) When you give permission we three Kings of the Orient will approach with our finest gifts for Him.”
“Shalom to you." Joseph said. "Let me talk with my relatives first,” Joseph said relatives because he wanted the men to think they were out-numbered. Not taking his eyes off the visitors he backed his way into the house.
“Mary! Aunt Martha! Come quickly!” Joseph said in a low voice. “There are three very rich Kings outside who say they have followed our star from the far East to worship Jesus and they’ve got gifts, very expensive gifts. Let’s pray first and seek God’s protection and guidance.”
After they prayed, all three agreed to let the strangers come inside. Joseph revealed the tip of his knife to the two women…just in case.
And when the Kings came into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto the child gifts of gold for a King, frankincense for a man, and myrrh for GOD.
THE WISE MEN 26 BY WAITING FOR THE WORD CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
Mary glowed in awe as the highly intelligent men dressed in the finest clothes worshiped their one year old son. Joseph couldn’t believe it either. Now, they knew the purpose of the bright star above their house.
The happy and satisfied Kings soon left as quickly as they came.
And being warned of God in a dream that the Kings should not return to Herod (who told them to tell him where the baby was so he could go worship him, too) they departed into their own country another way.
FLIGHT INTO EGYPT 20 BY WAITING FOR THE WORD CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR
The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, (now, they had the means to travel, to eat, and live in Egypt because of the king’s gifts of provision) and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother that night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, he slew all the children (destroy all the children of Sheth) that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
But when Herod was dead an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt saying, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And Joseph arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
But when Joseph heard that Archelaus, son of Herod, ruled in Judaea, he was afraid to go, but God warned him in a dream to go into the parts of Galilee back to Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets; He shall be called a Nazarene. (Italicized King James Bible)
While in Egypt Joseph probably did carpentry work to blend in with the poor and not look rich. When the three returned to Nazareth, Jesus was about three years old. Mary’s parents had died and their house was occupied by family. Joseph bought his own family a large house with the money from the three King’s expensive gifts. (Jesus stayed in this house His whole life with His mother unless He was traveling.) Joseph started a carpentry business in Nazareth where he taught Jesus the trade. Joseph died before Jesus started His ministry so Jesus probably finished training or delegating the next brother in carpentry. When Jesus was thirty He was baptized by His cousin, John the Baptist, and He immediately went up into the mountains for a 40 day fast. Jesus had ministry details to talk about with His Heavenly Father.
In His home town of Nazareth, Jesus was shunned by several relatives and so-called friends who believed the rumors that he had been an illegitimate baby. (That was why Mary and Joseph didn’t want to return to Nazareth after Jesus was born.) Mary and Joseph had five or six more children who were nothing like their calm, older son Jesus. Later in His ministry, Jesus could not do very many miracles in Nazareth because of the unbelief that stemmed from the false rumors of His mother Mary's pregnancy. Even though two or three of Jesus’ brothers became disciples later, while on the cross Jesus told the apostle John that Mary was his mother and he told Mary that John was her son. John took care of Mary until she died.
Jesus chose to leave His Father and all the comforts of Heaven to come to a this Earth for 33 years under the cruel control of the Roman Empire. At the chosen time God sent His Son to be born of a Jewish virgin girl and Jewish man who were both of the lineage of King David. The Legal payment for the whole world's sin had to be done by a sinless, perfect man... Jesus was the only One who qualified and He agreed to do it.
If you believe this you can be saved right now while sitting at your computer. Pray something like this: "Lord Jesus, I believe you are the sinless Son of God who died for my sins. I believe you love me no matter what I've done or not done. I come to you as I am. Forgive me and come into my heart and live big inside me forever! Amen."