Published January 03, 2008 by
One day a messenger from the Governor went up and down the streets of Galilee.
"Listen, everybody," he called. "It is time to pay your taxes. Everybody must go to the city and pay his taxes. Every man and his wife must go!"
Joseph laid down his tools and the trough he was making. He went into the house where Mary was weaving.
He told her about the messenger. "The law says that all must travel to the city and pay taxes."
He shook his head in a worried way. "Each one must travel to the city of his fathers to pay," he told Mary. "I will have to go to
Bethlehem since I am of David's family. Bethlehem is called the city of David."
Mary went on with her weaving. She was making a blanket of soft wool. Her face was happy and peaceful. As she worked on the little baby blanket she remembered the angel's promise.
The promise was beginning to come true. Before long she would have a baby. She could hardly wait to see her little son and hold him in her arms.
"How far is it to Bethlehem?" she asked.
Joseph told her, "It is a long trip and will take us several days. I do wish you did not have to go. The road will be rough and crowded. There may be robbers."
"I am not afraid," said Mary cheerfully.
"You will take good care of me, and the Lord will watch over us both."
Soon Mary and Joseph set out for Bethlehem.
Mary had packed food and fruit in a box for the journey.
She had bread and figs and olives, fruit and cheese in a basket. She carried water in a leather jug.
"What is in the other bundle?" Joseph asked.
Mary showed him a soft woolen blanket and some strips of snow white cloth. They were the clothes for her little baby.
"Will you need to take them along," asked Joseph? "Surely you will not need them in Bethlehem."
"I like to have them with me," answered Mary, wrapping the third bundle in a piece of blue cloth. "I like to look at them".
The little gray donkey made the trip with them. Mary rode on his back while Joseph walked ahead, leading the animal.
Mary was cheerful as they went along.
Her eyes had a faraway look.
"Soon this trip will be over and we will be back in our home," she said to Joseph. She loved her little house with the furniture which Joseph had made.
The thing she liked best was a little cradle which was ready and waiting. Joseph had made it of fine wood. He had carved it carefully and polished it with oil.
Joseph pointed out the interesting sights along the way. He showed her the olive orchards with the bare, twisted trees. They looked at oxen out in the fields. Now and then a tall, proud looking camel went past.
On the hillsides were flocks of sheep, with shepherds close by. Many of the sheep were lying down to rest. The young wife wished she could be with them.
"Their wool looks soft and warm," she said. "I would like to change places for awhile with those gentle sheep."
"We will get to Bethlehem presently," Joseph said cheerily. "I will get a good room for you at the inn. Then you can lie down and have a fine rest."
"I will like that," said Mary.
They went past a wine press where several people were working. Some were carrying baskets of grapes. Others were pressing the grapes to squeeze out the juice.
One of the men brought a small cup of the fresh grape juice for Mary to drink.
"The young woman seemed so tired," he said when the travelers had gone on.
"But did you notice what a beautiful face she had?" said another. "And how sweet her voice as she thanked you?"
After their long travel, Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem.
What a crowd there was! What rushing and pushing!
"We may be here for several days," said the carpenter, looking around. "It will take a good while for all these people to pay their taxes."
"I do not mind waiting," said Mary. "A long rest will be good."
Mary was very tired and her back ached from the long, jogging ride.
"But Joseph is tired, too," she thought.
"He walked all the way. I am sure his feet are tired."
"Now we will get a room at the inn and have a fine rest," said Joseph.
Mary pulled her cloak about her shoulders. The evening air was cold. She could hardly wait to get in bed and cover herself with a warm blanket.