One of the men stepped forward and spoke for them all. “We are shepherds. My name is Josiah, and these are my friends. We were watching our sheep tonight and we saw … we saw …” he looked at his friends for support and they nodded their encouragement for him to continue. “We saw an angel!”
“BAH! What good is the word of a shepherd? You are either lying or drunk,” one of the patrons said, dismissing him with a wave of his arm.
“We are neither drunkards nor liars. I tell you, we saw an angel of the Lord! I am not lying. He actually appeared to us and it was terrifying. The angel said to us, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the city of David, a Saviour has been born to you – he is Christ the Lord.’
“Then he said, ‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Then if that wasn’t enough to shock us, there were all kinds of heavenly beings that appeared in the sky with the angel and they were praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.’”
Josiah looked at the faces around him and seeing he had everyone’s interest, he continued. “What I am saying is the truth. When the angels went back into heaven, we decided to come to Bethlehem to see for ourselves this event which the Lord had told us about. So, we have gone to every inn and home around Bethlehem to see if any babies have been born. We ask again … is this where the child lies?”
Heli knew at once that his grandson (God’s son) had been born. He turned to the men and said, “Follow me.”
Joseph sat up in bed, his chest heaving. He searched his room for the source of light, but found only darkness. A dream? No, it was much more than that. He knew with all his heart that he had just experienced something wonderful. He could still feel the presence of holiness, could still hear the angel’s voice:
“…what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
“Mary told the truth!” Joseph was at once giddy with relief and remorseful that he had not believed her.
“…She will give birth to a son.”
She is to have a son? But not just any son … the Son of God. The Messiah! And I am to be this child’s father? I will have the privilege of raising him as my own? I am not worthy of such a responsibility. The thought of it sent his heart racing once again. Mary was the one who this was directly affecting and yet she seemed to be at such peace about it. Of course, she has had at least three months to accept it, he reasoned. He had only just heard yesterday. He groaned as he remembered his outburst. Will she accept my apology now? Will she understand why I was so upset? Will Heli welcome me again at their door after the way I treated them? Joseph jumped up from his cot and threw on a fresh tunic. A sense of urgency propelled him to hurry to the home of Heli. He would go to Mary at once. Before the day ended, he would make sure they were officially man and wife.