Published January 21, 2008 by
Back in his palace at Jerusalem the cruel King Herod waited. Every day he looked for the three wise men to return from Bethlehem.
"They will find that baby and will tell me where he is," the jealous man thought. "I can soon get rid of a little baby boy."
Mary and Joseph did not know of this danger to the baby. They were very happy.
Joseph had paid the taxes. Mary was rested. She had her lovely baby.
She had strange and wonderful things to remember, too. She thought of the shepherds who had come in and knelt by the manger.
She remembered the grave and richly dressed wise men with their fine new baby gifts.
She did not understand all these things, but she would think more about them after she got home to Galilee.
"It will be a happy time when we are in our own home in Nazareth again," she said to Joseph.
She held the baby close in her arms and smiled lovingly at the tiny boy.
"You have a cradle waiting for you at home, my baby," she whispered as she laid him back in the manger. "It is a beautiful wooden baby cradle, made of the finest wood, carved and polished. Your kind father, Joseph, made it for you."
Joseph and Mary looked again at the rich gifts which the wise men had brought.
"These are very unique gifts for a small baby," said the mother. "They will make our home look very rich!"
Joseph and Mary felt happy as they lay down to sleep in the stable.
"Tomorrow we will be out of this town," said Joseph. Mary added, "Soon we will be back in Galilee. I can hardly wait."
Hardly had Joseph gone to sleep before something wakened him.
He sat up, opening his eyes.
"Who called me?" he asked. He saw nobody.
"Did somebody call me?" he asked.
Mary slept on quietly. She had not called him.
There seemed to be a great brightness in the room. From this brightness Joseph seemed to hear a voice speaking to him.
"Arise at once, Joseph," said the voice.
"Take the baby and his mother and leave this place immediately. But do not go back to Galilee. Go to Egypt. Stay there till I bring you other directions."
"To Egypt?" repeated Joseph, feeling amazed. "Now-at night?"
"Now. Tonight. This very minute," said the voice. "King Herod is hunting this baby. He wishes to kill him. But fear not. Only do as you are told. The Lord is with you!"
The brightness disappeared. Again it was only a dark night in a gloomy stable.
Joseph wakened Mary.
"Come, dear wife. We are going now!" "Now, at night?" said Mary, somewhat surprised. But she did not complain.
Quickly she climbed to the back of their faithful small donkey. She sat there, holding the baby in her arms.
Softly, silently, without a word Joseph led the donkey from the stable. The small animal walked softly. He made no sound. Nobody saw the family leaving town.
All night long the family traveled on the road toward Egypt. On and on they went, going toward safety.
In a couple of days horsemen came galloping into Bethlehem. They were from the court of King Herod. The angry king had finally discovered the birthplace of the baby he feared.
"Has anybody seen a young baby here?" asked Herod's messengers. "We are seeking a new born baby. We have gifts for him."
"There were some people here, a man and a woman looking for a room," said the innkeeper. "I told them they might sleep in the stable."
The messengers rushed out to the stable. They looked all around. There was no baby in the manger. The messengers were angry and also afraid. How could they face King Herod?
"Where is the baby who slept in this manger?" they shouted to anyone who might hear.
But the cows and the sheep only looked quietly at the angry soldiers. A quiet donkey raised one ear and then went on eating hay. The doves over the doorway cooed gently but told nothing.
The animals could not talk to these angry men. They could not tell them about the beautiful little baby and his mother who had sung to him and the kind man who had sat in the stable.
They could not tell of the wonderful visitors, and the bright star, the strange brightness and the sound of singing. They kept the secret of the wonderful night. The soldiers galloped back to Herod's palace.
"It is not true. There is no baby there," they told the king.
But the baby and his parents were safe in Egypt. God had saved the baby Jesus from the wicked king.