As a writer, my mind sometimes wanders, or dreams, across different stories and wants to know more. And as a writer, it will occasionally create storylines that could be plausible. Take, for instance, the story of Jesus and his parents coming into Bethlehem to be registered.
We all know that there were no rooms for them, and they stayed in basically a barn for animals. We aren’t given much more than that. So, songs and storytellers create imagery to give us an idea of what it was like two thousand years ago. We take what we know of the time period and give people a picture representing what is believed to have taken place.
The picture of the stable Jesus was born in is iconic. Nativity scenes are popular right now through Christmas, from the mantle to the yard. We do our best to represent what the Gospel of Luke tells us about the birth of Jesus. But I often wonder about the trip there—the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. What happened from the time they entered the city gate to when Mary laid down her head in the hay—well, maybe she didn’t; she was about to go into labor.
The thought had come to me that perhaps Joseph had a plan. –C’mon, guys, we all have had one at one point. We make plans going somewhere, thinking we have all the time in the world. Maybe Joseph figured he had the room taken care of. He knew a guy. The inn? Yeah, don’t worry, Mary, I know a guy. I can hear him saying it back to Mary as she uncomfortably road their donkey.
Are you sure? It has been a while. She most likely contested. He would remind her they had been buds for ages and were good to go. The last time he was in town, he had said anytime he was in town, just to let him know. I can see Mary shaking her head.
The City of David
Joseph was so confident that once they entered Bethlehem, it was still early. They grabbed a couple of breakfast tacos and got in line. Shouldn’t we get the room first? Mary could’ve protested. I know a guy. Joseph, I can hear him say. Let’s get this done now before the line gets too long. Mary relents as the baby inside her begins to kick, and she starts to feel her first subtle contraction.
The line goes a bit slower than Joseph had planned. The sun is now heading in the opposite direction than when they arrived near the front of the line. Joseph identifies himself and registers with his wife. Can we go to our room now, Joseph? Mary demands with discomfort on her face.
Don’t worry, Mary. I know a guy. Joseph attempts to calm his wife. He points in the direction of his buddy’s inn. It was down the street and around a corner. He also was the owner of several stables. He asks if she is hungry, but she is determined to get the room first. He relents and continues to the inn.
It is a fine establishment. A small line is out front. He assures her they will be fine as they stand at its rear. Mumbles of ‘nothing’ and ‘sorry’ come from in front of them. Mary’s look of disappointment and ache shower him. Joseph’s face turns red, slowly beginning to doubt himself. But reassures himself that he is a friend, and friends go above and beyond for friends. Don’t worry, Mary. I know a guy. His grin wasn’t so sure, though.
The Inn was Inundated
They reach the front, and his guy stood there. There was immediate recognition and a heartfelt reunion. But a reluctant sorry, but there was no room for them in his inn. Solid booking with the census in town. They were even allowing people to room together it was so full. Joseph thanked his friend and began to walk away with a pained scowl on Mary’s face when his buddy called back.
Wait. The innkeeper came out to Joseph and pulled him aside. He could give him a space in the stable if he wanted. He didn’t do it for everyone, but with a pregnant wife, he had to do something to get them off the street. Joseph shrugged at Mary. I know a guy. She nodded, and Joseph’s friend took them around the corner and led them to the stable.
It is Part of History — His Story
The rest you know from what the Bible says. I know this is a complete embellishment. But only God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the Inn Keeper (I understand that the inn and stable could be different locations), know what really happened. True, this could’ve been Joseph’s first visit to Bethlehem, and he didn’t know the innkeeper from Adam. Either way, God knew exactly what was going on and what would happen on that night. I can’t wait to get to Heaven to talk about this and other stories we read about in the Bible.
And I did it again. I called them stories. I consistently tell this to our kids in our Sunday School class: The Biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth, life, and death are not stories; they are History. — His Story — Jesus’ story. These events actually occurred. I get excited when I read about them and consider what has happened. And what we are looking forward to. This is one of the best stories, my writers embellishment aside. Jesus was born into this world to save us from our sins. This birth is just the beginning.
Originally published Feb 16, 2022