I’m sure you’ve read the account in the Bible of Jesus’ birth, but I’m an eyewitness to the entire thing and not even mentioned!
Today I’m setting the record straight. I’m Joseph’s donkey. A beast of burden is what some call me because I can handle heavy loads on my back. My kind are known for their stubbornness, but I’d like to call it “cautious steadfastness”. We’re not easily startled and often have a calming effect on other animals.
I’ve helped Joseph with his carpentry work for many years. Unlike horses, who are symbols of war and wealth, donkeys are the working man’s beast.
My surefootedness on mountainous terrain made me a great companion for long journeys, like the one Joseph had to take his soon-to-be-wife, Mary, from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census, which also fulfilled the prophecy of Micah (5:2) that said the Savior would be born in Bethlehem.
Roughly a 90 mile journey, Joseph did not choose the direct path. My guess is he did not want to go through Samaria and take his beloved Mary who was carrying the Christ child across dangerous territory and very hilly terrain.
Instead, Joseph led me southeast through the Jezreel Valley and further east to the Jordan Valley. Sometimes Mary walked, other times she rode on my back. We continued south to Jericho, then proceeded up through the Judean Desert to Jerusalem. We only traveled during the day and the sun beat down on us. It was slow travel, but my master made the journey bearable. He and Mary talked about their uncertain future. Just when it seemed they might be down, one of them always mentioned their certain God. Joseph said, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is with us. He told Jacob in Genesis 28:15, ‘Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.’”
Mary seem to ponder this in her heart and never complained. Joseph was quick to make her ride me instead of walk onward to Bethlehem.
When we reached Bethlehem about a week later, we were all weary of moving. There was no lodging to be found. So, we camped out together, just as we had while traveling. It was certainly not the ideal spot, especially when Mary began to go into labor.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the cries of birth, but my huge ears heard the moans of pain first. The others in our group soon woke to wails and cries. I did my best to calm everyone down, as my nature. It seemed to go on forever and intensified each hour. Suddenly I heard a different type of cry, a high-pitched bawl, followed by a sweet and long lasting peace.
At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what had just happened, but I now know that the world had been changed forever with that cry. The Savior of the world had just been born to an unassuming couple who was obedient to the Lord.
Joseph later appeared with the baby wrapped in cloths. He held the child close to him while he searched for somewhere to lay him down. The manger I was using soon became a crib for the child. I looked down at Him as my heart filled with love and admiration that I had never felt before.
Later my heart sang and worshipped with the angels that came to proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”