Once upon a time, a little baby was born. Not just any baby, but the Savior of the world.
I wonder how Mary felt when the Angel Gabriel first showed up… I mean, she was there just minding her own business and then, POOF! There’s this glowing dude in her space. The Bible actually says she was afraid! Wouldn’t you be afraid if someone just POOFED into your room? I mean, not only was some strange man in her room, but he was glowing! I would’ve been scared, too!
And, then… Gabriel told her to not be afraid. And, she wasn’t. He told her that she was going to have a baby! Yay! Wait, not yay. Mary was engaged to Joseph, but she wasn’t married yet. Which means, having a baby outside of marriage was NOT a great idea. You see, God created sex as His gift for marriage. It’s supposed to be opened after marriage. Sex before marriage is like opening a Christmas gift before Christmas and then having nothing to open on Christmas. And, well… because you generally need sex to make babies… well, Mary’s pregnant tummy would NOT go unnoticed by the villagers. I wonder if the thought fleeted through her mind of the danger … back then, a woman pregnant out of wedlock could be stoned to death! Regardless of any fleeting thoughts… she told the angel that she was God’s servant and He could do with her what He will. Brave words.
Mary became rounder and when, Caesar Augustus required them (among others) to come to Bethlehem to be registered, she and Joseph went. I can’t imagine riding on a donkey from Galilee to Bethlehem. What is that? Like, 100 miles or so? On a donkey. Pregnant. I can imagine the sweat pouring down her face and back and the nausea creeping up. I bet her legs and feet were swollen and every little lurch was inconvenient, at best. Tired and worn, they finally arrive… to find there were no rooms. How disappointing that would’ve been! Finally, a merciful heart offered them the only place he had left… a stable. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a stable or barn before, but it stinks of manure, is dusty, and NOT the vision of cleanliness. Jesus was born, swaddled in fabric (which had NOT just been bought from Walmart and washed in Dreft), and laid in a food trough. For food. And, because they didn’t have bleach and such, I’m guessing it was simply dumped and given a good swipe and hay/straw was dumped in. By the way, have you ever been on a hayride? Have you ever felt hay or straw? Even separated by fabric, it itches and scratches. Not the ideal place for a baby…and yet, there Jesus was.
This is one of my favorite stories. Why? Because, you see, God is the maker of the universe. He is great and BIG and nothing is bigger than Him. He could’ve sent his Son as a strong knight into a palace with fine riches to rule… but, He didn’t. He chose a vulnerable, defenseless baby. Not only did Jesus come as a baby, but He went to a POOR family who wasn’t even married yet (at first). His first bed was an animal trough. He lived in what we would call the ghetto. His parents poor and working class. And, because that’s not enough… He spent much of his life with little to no valuables. His friends died. He was betrayed by people he loved. He was spat upon. He was hated. And, in His last days, He let them beat Him with leather straps with sharp rocks/nails attached that ripped at His skin. He walked with a heavy cross on His back and crown of thorns on His head placed by mocking hands. He let them hammer those nails, nailing Him to the cross. He let them. At any point, He could’ve jumped off. With a single word, He could’ve squashed them all. But, He didn’t.
Do you know why He let them? Because He loved YOU so very much.
“Do you remember the story I told you about Abrahaam and Isaac that I told you?” I said.
They all nod.
“Well, Jesus came to be the lamb for us. He let Himself be a sacrifice so that whoever comes to the Father through Him would be saved. Forever. Z, Jesus died for you…you are so incredibly precious to Him. He knows your name and he loves you SO much. La, Jesus died for you, too. He knows you and made you…he knows how many hairs are on your head. And, Ro… Jesus died for you. He thinks you are marvelous. And, AJ… Jesus died for you and you make His heart so happy.” I said. And, for the first time, a little boy from Africa heard that not only did Jesus love Him, but that He would pay the ultimate price for him. That HE was worth it.
Z looked back at me with tears welled up in his eyes as he fought furiously to hold them back. Yet, they jumped over his big eyelashes and splattered down his cheeks. As I knelt at his feet, I looked up and said, “But, Z, I’ve not told you the best part, yet. Jesus isn’t dead. You can’t REALLY kill (and keep Him that way) Jesus. Because, 3 days later, he rose from the dead. And, He did that for you, too. And now,” I say, with a big grin on my face, “Jesus is sitting on God’s right side. And, someday, we’ll go and join Him and have a fabulous feast and party and it will truly be magnificent. Jesus loved you then and He loves you now. And, this… this is why mommy and daddy love Jesus so much.”
Then, La looked over and said, “It’s okay, Z. I cried last time when mommy told me, too.”
There are days when I feel like homeschooling may make me lose my mind, but these little moments… these. They are the nuggets that make it all worth it one hundred times over.
And then, from the corner, a tiny voice pipes up: “Mommy, please show me how to get Jesus in my heart,” Ro says.
Today was only supposed to be a 2 minute Bible Story from the Jesus Storybook Bible, but turned out to be so much more.