Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Following is a possible “Eternal Reflection” of one who experienced Jesus Christ when He walked on earth.
Needless to say, my first encounter with Jesus was quite an adventure! I didn’t hear any more of, or see, Jesus for approximately 12 years.
My father enlarged his innkeeping and livery trade by purchasing some housing in Jerusalem, Bethany, and Bethphage. His purpose was to take advantage of the pilgrims and merchants that traveled to Jerusalem.
My donkey enterprise really grew. The donkey Joseph gave me proved to be very fertile and provided me with a very affable herd. I expanded my enterprise into racing stock. You see, with the increasing population of desert tribes pouring into our area from Decapolis, Perea, and Samaria, the sport of horse racing was growing in popularity. Of course, the Romans had their chariot races that they bragged about, but we didn’t have any arenas large enough to accommodate such events.
I knew that my donkeys were no match for the thoroughbreds that the nomadic people rode; but, I got an idea that racing donkeys would be much easier to arrange and choosing the winners would not be as easy to do since their bloodlines would not be as exact. Besides, it’s also very entertaining to watch donkeys race. The riders really must be adept at staying on the backs of the donkeys as they run!
Now, back to when I saw Jesus again approximately 12 years after my first encounter. The innkeeping and livery business really thrives during the Jewish feasts – especially Passover, because the pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem stay for several days! The caravans of Jewish pilgrims and visitors move seemingly endlessly into the city as the Day of Passover approaches.
Because of my father’s wisdom, we were able to take advantage of the steady flow of travelers in need of housing that travelled through Bethlehem from the south of Jerusalem, and Bethany and Bethphage from the north of Jerusalem. We had the benefit of providing housing in Jerusalem as well. The Day of Passover arrivals always reminds me of the time when the caravans came to Bethlehem during Caesar’s taxation.
This encounter with Jesus came just following the Passover Feast. I was taking care of our inn in Bethany when a knock came on the door of our inn. It was just following dusk. I opened the “visitor’s window” of the door, and there he was – Joseph! He appeared to have aged more than the approximately 12 years that had passed since I’d last seen him, but I recognized his wide smile! I called him by name and reminded him of who I was. It was then that I saw Jesus!
Jesus was standing at His father’s side and seemed interested in how Joseph and I were interacting. Joseph introduced me to Jesus and told Jesus how we first met. As I looked into His eyes, I was mindful of a sudden peace and hope that flooded my soul. I remembered that I experienced the same the first time I saw Him. He spoke with me as if He’d known me all His life. He made me feel like I was one of His friends.
I was happy to see Mary again! She too had aged; but, she had a cultured grace about her that was both uncommon and refreshing. I noticed that both she and Joseph had a concerned expression as they looked at Jesus. I just figured it was because they were tired.
I shared what was left from the evening meal with Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. I asked why they had left Jerusalem so late on their journey back to Nazareth. That’s when I understood their concerned expression. Joseph said they thought Jesus was with some of their other family members traveling back to Nazareth. Joseph and Mary were riding with her sister and husband enjoying the visit. Joseph asked Mary if she had seen Jesus, and she said she thought Jesus was with His cousin John and Aunt Elizabeth. When they stopped to eat, Joseph went to tell Jesus to join them. BUT, Jesus wasn’t with the caravan!
Joseph said he borrowed a smaller wagon and horse from his family. He and Mary went back to Jerusalem and found Jesus teaching in the Temple. Joseph told me that Jesus was more interested in studying the Torah and the Major Prophets than anything else. By the time they found Jesus and headed back toward Nazareth, Bethany was as far as they could travel before nightfall.
I was intrigued with Joseph’s remark concerning Jesus’ interest in the sacred Scriptures. It is important that you know that my family was not interested in religion at all. While we are descendants of Abraham, my father showed no interest in the practice of Judaism; therefore, I was not! BUT, I had the opportunity to overhear the conversations of the Jewish pilgrims and the rabbis who stayed at my father’s inns. Their banter always piqued my curiosity.
Joseph asked me if I still had the donkey he gave me. That gave me the opportunity to tell him how successful my donkey-breeding business was going! He was very excited when I told him I had “his” donkey with me in Bethany. Joseph and Jesus went with me to the private stable where I kept my donkey.
Something very interesting happened when my donkey saw Jesus! She began tapping her right hoof, nodding her head, and ran up to Him. He stretched out His hand and she just nuzzled it. Jesus smiled as he looked at the white, star-shaped mark between her ears. As He stroked her head, Jesus said, “She is a very special donkey. Her offspring is destined for something special.”
I was excited to hear what Jesus said! I just knew that my donkey was going to provide me with some winning donkeys! I was already planning was I was going to do with my racing proceeds.
Jesus and I had the opportunity to spend some time alone in my special stable. He was very soft spoken, yet His words had a way of striking the core of my heart and provoking my thinking. When I asked Him what His favorite Scripture was, or favorite Prophet, His face lit up and He motioned for me to sit down with Him.
He began to expound on His interest in Moses’ account of creation. I was challenged when He said, “I am enthralled with the principle that the Word of God is as powerful as His Hand. In fact, God’s Word can search men’s hearts and speak into existence what does not exist!”
Jesus expressed a deep love for the writings in Psalms. I was intrigued when He said, “I love the Psalms because they project the Character, Confidence, Consistency, and Championship of God’s Majesty! I am troubled by why David wrote, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ when I know God will never forsake us. I am encouraged by what David followed this with, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I will not want any good thing.’ With the help of the Psalms, I’ve come to realize that God desires to be more intimate with us. In fact, I believe God will be a Father to us all if we allowed Him! I have come to accept that He has a Specific, Personal interest in My life!”
I listened intently as Jesus discussed Scripture. I lost track of time. Nearly two hours passed before I was aware that they had. I was deeply concerned when Jesus said, “One of My favorite Prophets is Isaiah; BUT, I cannot figure out who he was talking about when he wrote, ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.’ Whoever Isaiah was writing about was NOT an animal, He was a man whom God would consider His Lamb!” After saying this, Jesus looked out into the darkness, sighed, and said, “Well, one day I’ll understand! We all will! You see, God cannot lie. What He has prophesied WILL come to pass!” With that, our conversation ended. My thoughts concerning it did not!
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus left early the next morning. I was happy to get reacquainted with them – especially, to see how Jesus had grown. As they travelled a short distance, Jesus stood up in the cart and shouted, “Take care of your donkey! I hope to see you again someday!”