This Week's Story

Mary travels 93 miles to Bethlehem on a donkey with her husband Joseph. What extraordinary event in history occurs there and to her?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

The Final Climb to a Manger

Mary stared at the birds flying overhead. Were they travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem? 80 miles as the crow flies, but not so for Joseph and her!  No! By donkey and foot they would travel ninety-three miles. It was a hard and long trip to make when you are pregnant with a child soon to be born.

“Joseph, please stop for a rest. The baby is kicking me and my donkey is having a terrible time stepping through the rocks.  Between kicks and bumps, I’m wondering if my little one is coming soon.”

“I hope not, Mary.  We must stay with the caravan. Then we will be much safer. Through the hills here there are many dangers—lions, bear, and ruthless bandits.”

“I wish we lived when King David ruled. Then this trip would not be happening.”

“Mary, it is because of him that we are going to Bethlehem. Caesar Augustus has ordered that a count be taken of the millions of people who live throughout the Roman Empire. He wants to be sure he receives all the tax money he can get. We have to register in the town from where my ancestors came. You know both of us are descendants of King David and he was from Bethlehem.”

“Joseph, do you remember Micah’s prophecy recorded in the Old Testament about Bethlehem?”

“I sure do.  ‘But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.’”

“I wonder, Joseph, if this baby inside of me is to be that ruler. I think of what the angel Gabriel told me.”

“Yes, I struggle every day to understand his words to you and what I was told by an angel in a dream.  We know that we are simple and practical people. I am a hard-working and poor carpenter. Yet somehow, in spite of what we would usually believe, you and I accept the angels’ messages. We are to name the baby Jesus.  God’s spirit caused the child to be conceived in you—you, who are a virgin. He will be great and is to be called the Son of God. He is to save his people from their sins.

What does that mean?  Our people look for a ruler, a messiah, who will lead us to freedom from the Romans. But, save us from our sins…that I don’t understand.”

“Joseph, I wonder every day what Jesus will be like.”

“Mary, if we believe the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, we have been told that a virgin will have a child, a son, whose name Immanuel means God is with us. Is God going to come to earth as a baby? Is this the baby inside of you?”

For now, we will drink water and eat dates. We are beginning the most difficult part of our trip.  We have an uphill hike of 3,500 feet from Jericho to Bethlehem. Don’t give up, sweetheart.  I will help you.”

When they reached their destination, the streets were noisy with animals and people. Joseph looked anxiously at his wife. She was young and lovely, but oh, so tired. He needed soon to find a place for them to stay.

After checking at inns and finding no room, Joseph gave up. He prayed, “Help me to find a place where Mary and I can stay.” And there in the hill behind an inn, Joseph found a cave where he and Mary made their short-time home.

When the little one was born, he was wrapped snugly in infant cloths and laid in a manger. Usually food was placed in the manger for the animals of travelers. This manger received the presence of Jesus.

This is Barbara Steiner with a second chapter in the Christmas story as found in Matthew and Luke of the Bible. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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