Last year I wrote a little Christmas story for you guys, and this year I wanted to continue the tradition – only this time, from Mary’s perspective.
As a disclaimer, this is obviously NOT to be taken as gospel truth. Although I’ve collected as many insights as I could from the Bible (duh), advent devotionals, articles, sermons, etc., this is just me imagining what it would be like to be a part of the first Christmas story, as the mother of a Messiah. It’s hard to fathom what overwhelming joy and what terrible shame Mary would have dealt with. But I shall give it a try. 🙂
Find yourself a warm drink and a cozy spot, and please enjoy. ❤
WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
-A Christmas Story-
Why me, oh Lord, why me? I cried out silently every time I felt the baby move inside me. I’m just a girl. I’ve never had a child. I’m not even married – couldn’t you wait? You know my heart even better than I do, and I am such a filthy, broken vessel to carry the Son of God. How can I ever be a good enough mother for a perfect Savior?
My thoughts tangled themselves in long threads and complicated knots that pulled tighter and tighter against my chest until the tears fell. Joseph came over with his kind, steady smile and put one strong carpenter’s hand over the growing child and one on my shaking shoulders.
“Mary,” he said softly, “you will be a wonderful mother. I know how you cherish the children around you; I know how compassionate and patient you are. But you will make mistakes sometimes. My dear, you must rest in the knowledge that God has chosen you for this task. When you feel as if you aren’t enough, He will be.”
His words calmed me, for I could taste their truth. How grateful I was that God had placed me beside my betrothed! Joseph had a heart as steady and true as every table, tool, and wood furnishing he built.
For the thousandth time I would wonder why he was even here. My family hated him only slightly less than they hated me – they believed what was happening to me was his fault. Where I knew unspeakable honor, they saw only unbearable shame.
Joseph’s own family was disgusted with him for not divorcing me when he found I was with child, even after he told them of his vision. Our families had disowned us, and without a proper place in the community, we were less than dust in the sight of everyone around us. We had lost all but each other and God.
Despite everything, he was still by my side today – or rather in front of me, leading my donkey through the masses of people traveling this rutted road to Bethlehem. I saw worry pooling in the creases on his forehead as he glanced back at me.
“It appears the population grew more than we expected, and no one looks too happy about it. Let’s just hope they keep their discontent to themselves.” I nodded agreement.
To put it mildly: none of us Jews liked censuses. The more people that were recorded, the higher the taxes were raised. And who wanted to hand out more money to our harsh Roman leaders? Riots had broken out over past censuses; we prayed they would not happen again.
When we reached the inn of Bethlehem, there were people everywhere. Joseph nearly had to part a Red Sea’s worth of humanity to reach the innkeeper.
“I’d like a room for myself and my betrothed, who is with child,” Joseph requested. The man raised his eyebrows at the last phrase, nodding when he saw my very swollen stomach.
“I’m sorry, Master, but all of our rooms are filled, twice over. Some rooms even have three families in them. Looks like the taxes aren’t going to get any lower,” he ended wryly, his eyes sweeping over the families and couples overflowing the courtyard.
Joseph rubbed his forehead and sighed, contemplating for a few moments when the innkeeper didn’t offer more help. “Well, I suppose we’ll have to go somewhere else, Mary. I’m sure other nearby inns are full if this one is, but perhaps some kind person will open their home to us. We won’t stay long.”
The innkeeper looked doubtful. One would have to be VERY kind to help an unmarried girl with child, especially with the census in operation.
Before Joseph could lead the donkey away, I caught my breath sharply and put a hand to my stomach. I swallowed hard to keep the pain from rising as a scream. “Joseph, I’m sorry, but I can go no further. I think it’s almost time…”
Joseph’s eyes widened and his brown, weathered face turned as pale as the fading sky. “Innkeeper, you must let us stay,” he pleaded. “She’s in no condition to travel! Can’t you at least spare us a room for a few hours?”
The innkeeper looked frightened. Joseph was tall and strong, and his voice was wild. But he shook his head slowly. “Master, I would if I could, but I can’t just drive out my customers for…” he looked at me with slightly narrowed eyes – a subtle expression of disgust and condescension I had grown used to by now.
Pain sliced me again, and this time I couldn’t stop a cry from escaping my lips. Joseph’s chest tightened. He drew himself up and looked straight at the innkeeper. His fingers trembled behind his back.
The innkeeper’s mouth opened and closed again. He backed further into the shadows of the entryway, crying, “The stable! You can have the stable! It’s the only place left. There’s clean straw there, and I will charge you no money. I know you are a just man, Master, and would never hurt someone who’s just doing his duty.” Joseph relaxed, and nodded a little apologetically. “There it is, east of the courtyard. All yours.”
“Yes, Joseph. Please say yes. I must lie down.”
He nodded shortly to the innkeeper and led me through the crowd. The stable was about as attractive and opulent as the inn – which is to say, not very. Its crumbling brick walls looked as if they’d collapse if kicked by one more donkey. Joseph made sure ours kept its hooves on the path.
The interior would have been a fine size if it was empty, but it wasn’t. Enough of the inn’s guests had ridden here that we were left with just an empty manger on a tiny patch of straw. Joseph lifted me carefully to the ground where I sat, leaning against the filthy wall for support.
My heart felt as broken as the stable. THIS was the place God’s Son would be born? A falling down shed? It smelled like animals. It sounded like animals. Big, black flies busied themselves with the donkeys and mules standing in their stalls. Patches of night sky peered through the ceiling. All we had was a tiny space of bedding hardly fit for our donkey, and a King was about to come into the world!
The pain was getting worse now. I focused on one particularly bright star twinkling from a gap in the roof. My fingers clenched in the dusty straw, I traced Joseph’s family line backward and forward. Jacob, the crafty, cunning one who carried forth the line of Israel; Rahab, the prostitute from whose line emerged a king: David, who sinned greatly before the Lord, yet was forgiven… Name after name arose, all of them tinted or stained with unrighteousness. And now I had joined them. I wondered if-
But then the slicing pain severed my mind from all other thoughts.
Hours passed until I heard a cry that wasn’t mine. I gazed at Joseph in exhaustion. The sound was coming from the cloth-wrapped bundle in his arms. “Oh!” I gasped. Joseph gave me the widest, weariest smile I’d ever seen.
When I held my son for the first time, all else vanished. I felt nothing but overwhelming wonder and adoration. The Almighty God who had led my forefathers through the wilderness, who had done many great and marvelous acts of mercy – that same Lord was the Father of the child I held in my arms: his only begotten Son, Emmanuel.
The greatest Power in the world was now a helpless babe in a young girl’s arms.
It was as if Caesar Augustus had sent his firstborn to join my sister’s collection of dolls, just to save their tattered lives. It was ridiculous! Outrageous! Seemingly impossible! And yet the King of all creation had sent his only child to save humans: formed of dust, and far more rebellious and sinful than harmless toys.
I gazed into my baby’s eyes, shining silently with the first tears God’s Son had ever cried. How many tears were still in store? Tears of heartbreak for me, tears of blood for him…
A cold wind swept into my heart, bearing with it a flash of the future. I knew the prophecies. I knew that only a sacrifice and the shedding of blood could pay for sin. Yet it sounded so much worse when you weren’t talking about a lamb, but your…
I shivered. One day, far too soon, I would have to give him up.
Joseph knelt and wrapped his arms around and the baby and me. His presence was warm, but he knew my chill wasn’t caused by the wind rattling through the chinks. Gently, my betrothed took the child and placed him in the manger he had filled with straw. The ice slowly melted from my heart as we gazed in reverence at our newborn King, radiant against his wretched surroundings.
“What a beautiful child, Mary.” Joseph smiled down at the tiny face. “What a perfect gift the Lord has given us. No, not to us,” he held my gaze, his dark eyes deep with seriousness, “to the world. This is a gift meant for sharing.”
“Yes,” I breathed softly. “A gift for sharing.”
We were still lost in thought several minutes later, when we heard rustlings outside the stable and a shepherd’s crook appeared. The man to whom it was attached slowly followed it around the corner, his timid face spilling over with light when he saw the manger and the babe inside.
“Peace to you,” he whispered. “We have come to meet our Savior.”
I turned to Joseph and smiled. It was time to share our gift.
*happy sigh* There, it’s finished. I’ve been working on this for a while. It was so eye-opening to research and think more deeply about the Incarnation this December. Hopefully this imagined story helped fill you with wonder and awe once again for the real Christmas story about the most incredible act of love ever completed.
Thank you ever so much for reading, dears, and have a simply marvelous Christmas!