Bed was a dangerous place for Baby Jesus. The infant Jesus slept in a cold barn full of unsanitary livestock and a cadre of Roman soldiers, spears in hand, lurking around every corner. (The sleepy little town of Bethlehem was in occupied Roman territory). “Away in a Manger” lyrics had some serious issues. When the cattle "moo'ed" and the donkeys "neighed," the sound was not lullaby level. The barn was noisy and I’ll bet Jesus squalled his little lungs out.
For me, bed is always a perilous place. Every night! You see, my husband Roger is a sleep-walker. He is a sleep-talker as well. Night after night when we get ready to get some shut eye, I really need a baseball bat under my pillow to protect myself. At best, Roger flaps his arms wildly because he thinks he can fly. At worst, my hubby is at war with the Germans, screaming full-force and poking me at gunpoint...usually his right index finger. (I’m glad it’s not loaded!) This summer we took our kids, Bronwyn and Richard, to Italy. To save dinero, we slept in the same room. Richard swears Roger sang opera in his sleep. Too much pizza and gelato, in my estimation.
When I try to wake my hubby up, He doesn’t. He just talks back to me and swears that he’s awake. Anyway, we think a spray bottle of water may be our only hope. Either that, or I’ll banish him to the bubba chair in the living room.
Yep, bed can be a dangerous place.
And the journey of Mary and Joseph was a dangerous journey. The pilgrimage to Joseph’s ancestral home was uphill in mountainous terrain.
Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem (as in “O Little town…”). The distance in a straight line from Nazareth to Bethlehem does not affect the time such a journey would have taken. Samaria was situated between Galilee and Judea. The tiny town of Bethlehem lay Judea. Samaritans and Jews had issues and treated Jewish travelers pretty much the same as the French treat every tourist these days (with disdain!). Happy meals and Dairy Queen blizzards could not be found along the way.
And what an arduous trip it was! The couple probably survived on stale bread, moldy cheese and a few dried figs. Any lone traveler crossing from Galilee into Samaria would be at risk of attack and would certainly not receive lodging or any other type of assistance on the journey. Mary and Joseph's little family would have had to journey eastward, crossing over into modern-day Jordan and then travelling south on the eastern side of the Jordan River, before traversing back into Judea. We’re talking a long trek to pay your taxes. Thank God we all don’t have to walk to Washington D.C. every year! What a pain!
Poor Mary was not travel-worthy! Most pregnant women are told not to go anywhere in their last trimester of pregnancy.
Not Mary. She made the grueling trip in her ninth month on the back of a bouncing donkey. Mary must have felt like she was dribbling a basketball in her abdomen as she perched on top of his smelly gray fur. The weary pair both probably feared she’d go into labor on the dusty road. A buff Jewish man leading this donkey could have, at a guess, traveled about 20 miles a day. However, some Christians say that Joseph must have been an older dude, way past his prime. Perhaps the best guess is that this bumpy journey would have taken at least a week. Ouch…
The night was not silent, but it was definitely holy. We know that a super-nova lit up the sky and angels and shepherds gathered to celebrate the arrival of the new King-Messiah.
Dr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, have taught conferences on marriage and ministry in 35 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of Preach It, Teach It providing free resources in 10 languages to 5 million visitors in 229 countries and territories. The Barriers pastored 35 years at Casas Church in Arizona, Julie has served as a worship minister, concert artist and adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has authored or composed of over 500 published works.