Asher ran quickly through Bethlehem , not even stopping when the sharp stone pierced through the tender flesh on the bottom of his foot. Nothing would distract him, not even the pain that seared up his leg whenever his heel hit the ground.
He turned off the main road into an alley and soon threw open the wooden door to his family’s home.
“Slow down, my son. You will hurt yourself.”
She was awkwardly pouring water from the wooden bucket, into the pot above the fire. Asher swiftly moved to help her before the water spilled onto the flames below.
“Mother! You’ve got to come back with me. Let’s hurry! It’s incredible!”
He handed the bucket back to her as she thanked him.
“Asher, sit in that chair and calm down.”
Her tone was firm and he obeyed, feeling like a five year old again, instead of the stout, rugged fourteen year old he had become.
“Tell me what you are talking about.”
“The king we’ve waited for! I know it’s him!”
“Mother, quit kidding around and come with me!” He started for the door.
“Asher, where is your brother Aaron?”
“He stayed with the flock.”
“Why are you not in the fields with your brothers and here instead, speaking of nonsense?”
“Mother, you’ve got to come and see for yourself!”
Asher stood in the frame of the doorway holding the door open as he waited for his mother to follow.
“Asher, I don’t know what you are talking about, but you need to be tending your father’s flock with your brothers.”
“But mother – it’s him. I know it! You’ve got to come with me!”
“Asher, get back to the fields with Joshua and Aaron and stop this now.”
Asher’s heart beat so quickly, he thought it was going to burst. Just then, he remembered his father’s stories, the very thing that caused him to find the child in the stable.
“Mother”, he said, certain she would not dismiss him now. “There were men – sent from God – they were all in white and beautiful. They told us about the child just born, so we went. Aaron thought they were a hoax, but Joshua and I are sure they were angels. Mother, please – come with me!”
Asher’s mother stood still, processing what her son had said while he waited.
“Go get Joshua and get back to helping Aaron with your father’s sheep. Now.”
Asher wanted to ask why she didn’t believe him. Instead, he turned and stepped back outside and proceeded back to where he came from.
As he approached the small lean-to behind the town’s inn, he heard the soft murmur of voices. A small fire was burning inside and Asher knew, by the way the logs were stacked upon the bare earth, that his brother had built it for the little family. Cold inside, the heat of the fire warmed up the small space where the family quietly looked down upon the new life before them.
“You can come closer.” The mother didn’t appear any older than Asher himself, and he accepted the invitation, hunkering down right beside the trough.
“Asher!” Standing back in the corner, his brother Joshua whispered at him loudly, as if stopping him short of making a mistake.
Asher looked over at the woman, her kind eyes and smile softening the moment. Then her husband spoke.
“It’s okay. We named him Jesus.”
Asher smiled shyly. Looking back at the baby, he seemed drawn even closer. He sat on his knees and he put his arms on the side of the trough.
What was this new fascination about a baby?, he thought, never before mesmerized.
The child’s eyes opened. There was something different about those tiny eyes that kept Asher staring back.
“Hi.” Asher’s voice was soft as he slid the palm of his hand under the baby’s. The tiny hand grasped Asher’s finger.
“He’s so beautiful.”
Asher smiled at the mother and she turned to look up at her husband who stood beside her.
“Yes, he is beautiful. He likes you.”
Asher felt emboldened. “Can I come back later?”
“Of course. We’ll be here a few days, I’m certain.”
Asher smiled and looked back at the baby. Lifting himself up, he bent over, compelled to kiss the child’s head. As he did, Asher softly whispered, “Welcome little king. Welcome.”
I tell you with certainty, “Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 NIV