Well, like I said, those were two of the happiest years of my life. But they passed so quickly! I remember when Joseph and his family left as though it were yesterday.
I was in the courtyard of the inn when a caravan stopped before the gate. I have never seen such rich trappings as were displayed on the camels and the three men who rode them! There were a couple of other camels and a donkey or two with servants riding them, but you knew immediately which was royalty! One of the servants said to me, “My masters are looking for the child born King of the Jews. We were told we might find him here. Do you know of anyone who can help us?”
Eli had come from the inn and he spoke for me. “I’m sure I know the one you speak of, sirs. And young Micah here can take you to him if you wish.”
As he said this, the kingly men moved forward. “He is called King here, then?” one asked.
“Yes, sir, by some.” answered Eli, “although not all believed the shepherd’s story…” Before he could say more, the other two crowded close and one spoke to me.
“Take us to him quickly, lad! We have come far and are eager to worship him.” I could tell they were travel weary, but there was no thought of stopping for refreshment. One of the servants put me on his donkey and we started for Joseph’s house. Quite a crowd collected behind us as we made our way through town. The light from the late afternoon sun made the gold and jewels of their trappings blaze with a thousand rainbows and even I felt kingly as we rode!
With joyful anticipation, we made our way to the little house, and it felt good to see how much Joseph’s skill had improved its looks. But, with all his skill, Joseph could not make the humble home look like the palace of a king. I had almost forgotten that night when the shepherds bowed before them and told their story of angels and the Messiah. Nor did Mary and Joseph speak of it often. “This is it, sirs.” I motioned toward the house as Joseph stepped out to meet us.
“Look!” One of the kings pointed directly overhead. There, brighter than the setting sun, was a beautiful star. We had never seen it before, and never one so close and so brilliant.
“The star has led us to Him!” Without waiting for help, the kings dismounted and took into their own hands the objects held by the servants. Joseph did not seem alarmed or troubled by the visit, but motioned them inside. I followed them in without thinking.
Mary had been rocking Jesus and his head was nestled on her shoulder as she rose from the chair to greet the guests. At the sight of Jesus, the kings fell to the floor and lay like slaves before a ruler. Mary said quietly, “Please rise and tell us who you are.” She sat down again as the kings rose to their knees and told their story.
“Favored lady,” said one of the kings. “We have been traveling for almost two years to worship this child. We are those who study the heavens and many books of ancient cultures and civilizations. Always they have pointed to One who will come to save us from our sins. One night a new star appeared in the heavens. When we studied our charts and books, we realized we were seeing His star and that this great and glorious light was the sign of one who would be called King of the Jews.”
Another king spoke. “We have come to worship Him and to present to Him our gifts. Please accept them as our homage.” He set an ornately carved box on the floor and, when he opened the lid, gold caught and reflected the setting sun. Then, the kind who had first spoken opened his box and the aroma of exotic fragrances filled the room.
Now, the third king stepped forward and opened a protective container. “This jar cannot be opened until it is time to use its contents,” he explained. “I offer as my gift, Myrrh, the costliest of spices to your Majesty.”
The gifts did not look out of place on that clean-swept earthen floor. Nor did the humble room seem an unfit place for an audience with the King of the Jews. For suddenly the same awe and wonder filled the air as was present on that other night. I could sense the presence of angels, and baby Jesus was sitting on Mary’s lap with the solemn demeanor of a prince.
Then, he laughed and held out his hands to the king nearest him. He wriggled off Mary’s lap and knelt down to touch the jeweled boxes, bounded back up and began to acquaint himself with visitors just like any two-year-old.
The kings stayed a while visiting with Mary and Joseph, talking of their travels and listening with great interest to Mary’s account of Jesus’ conception and birth. Jesus fell asleep with his head in my lap while they talked and I laid him in his cradle. I looked at the sweetness of his sleeping face and thought of what had been said about him. The King of kings had a wisp of wood shaving in his curls and a smudge of dust on one fat little thumb. I simply could not see him as what he really was. To me, he was just little Jesus, my pretend brother, and I loved him more than anyone I’d ever known.
I felt movement and realized the kings were standing in back of me looking at Jesus. Embarrassed, I excused myself and went out to wait in the yard with the servants.
Soon, the kings came out, said their goodbyes, and went back to the inn. I went also, knowing Eli would need me to help provide for these important visitors.
I helped the servants unpack the animals and make them comfortable in the stable. The one who had spoken to me when they first arrived was the only one who spoke our language and he kept asking me questions about the night Jesus was born and the history of our people. The other three servants crowded around us and he had to pause occasionally to repeat what I had said in their tongue. I finally had to make my apologies and go back to the inn to help serve the evening meal.
Many extra people had come to hear their story. The royal visitors spoke with strange accents, but knew our language. They told of how they had gone first to Herod’s palace in Jerusalem with their request to worship the newborn King of the Jews. They said King Herod had seemed rather upset at their news and had no immediate information for them. He had called his counselors and told them to investigate the matter.
“We were guests of your King while the religious leaders searched the Scriptures. The whole city was talking about the news according to our servant who had overheard some of it. Finally, King Herod called us into his private chambers and told us he thought he had the information we wanted. He asked us exactly when we had seen the star, then said the old prophecies named the town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of a future Prince. We thanked him and left. Now, after only a day’s travel, we are here in His birthplace!” The king settled back into his chair and there was silence while those present digested what they’d heard.