“Wonder who those people are that are going into the little out-building over there?” asked Luther, young son of a farmer near Bethlehem. “They look like people from somewhere else.”
Bradford, his friend helping him round up their fathers’ sheep for the night, took a look over at the young couple. “I don’t know; but they sure don’t look like they’re from around here, do they?”
THE TWO TEENS got back to their family chores, but their attention still continued to be drawn to the young couple and their donkey the wife was riding on.
“Hey, Luther, look at the woman,” said Bradford after staring for a few more seconds. “See her belly sticking out? She looks like she’s about to have a baby! Wonder why in heck they’re over here, away from wherever they live, when she was in that condition?” “Beats me,” answered Luther.
The two finished up with their chores, but couldn’t take their eyes off the strangers going into the little out-building. The sight fascinated them — but they couldn’t guess exactly why.
FINALLY BRADFORD, the older of the two boys, said, “Oh, come on, let’s get back home; the folks will be wondering what the hell we’ve doing out here.”
When they got home, Luther’s mom ordered them to wash up and get ready for supper. But they still couldn’t get themselves far from the windows, where they could still see the little out-building. And then, they noticed that some other adults were making their way toward it, including three riding large camels.
“Look at those camels!” said Luther. “Those guys must have come from a LONG way away!” His friend nodded, staring silently at the three big animals, and their riders, who looked like they had come from some very high position in society. Perhaps even royalty!
That did it for the two young Bethlehemers, who went running out of the house and dashing toward the little out-building, which seemed to be filling up at high speed with local people — and many from God knew where! Luther’s mom screamed at the two boys, “Come back here! It’s supper time! I’ll tan your hides!”
BUT LUTHER and Bradford ignored her threat and kept running toward the out-building. They feared that by the time they reached it, there might be no room left inside — and they were now determined to find out what was going on in there.
But as they entered the crowded shed, it seemed that somehow the large group of people already there, magically shrank enough to allow the two young men to come in, and approach the basket where the new-born baby was being hovered over, lovingly and protectively, by its mother.
There was bright light coming from somewhere, and it made the new-born baby easily visible to everyone in the building. They crowded closer, staring in fascination.
THE NEW BABY appeared pretty normal. But, suddenly his eyes, which were already open, lighted on Luther and Bradford — and it was like he’s just seen two of his best friends! His eyes lit up, he began to squirm around and smile, and he actually raised the arm closest to the two teenagers and waved at them! The others in the building gasped at what had just happened, and some of them began to laugh unbelievingly.
Definitely scared at the incident, Bradford and Luther turned and raced out of the building, heading back to Sanford’s home. But as they raced back, they both happened to glance up at the sky in front of them, and suddenly saw a huge, beautiful star up there that they hadn’t noticed before. “What the hell!” yelled Bradford.
As they reached Bradford’s house, he whispered to Luther, “Now, don’t tell them anything. Mom is madder than hell at us already; we sure don’t want to make her even madder!”
They tip-toed into the kitchen where supper was awaiting them, and Sanford said to his mother, “Mom, we’re so sorry about what we did! I don’t know what was wrong with us!”
BUT MOM, DAD and Bradford’s younger siblings looked at the two boys with expressions that were surprising — very much so. They looked shocked, but calm, and with not a fraction of any kind of anger.
“It’s OK, boys,” Bradford’s father said, “just sit down and enjoy your meal.”
The rest of the evening went pretty quietly. Neither Bradford’s parents, nor his younger brothers and sisters, said anything more about the weird things that had happened in the neighboring fields and the shed. Bradford and Luther whispered to each other a couple of times about why everyone was so quiet about it, but they said nothing to anyone else.
A couple of days later, the boys noticed the young couple, and their new baby, leaving in their carriage. The two teens looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and went back to their chores.
THE NEXT FEW days, the two boys caught each other staring at the shed where the “miracle” had occurred. When they would cast questioning glances at each other, they didn’t know what to say. Just went back to work.
So, eventually they stopped thinking about it. Some years passed. Luther and Bradford grew up, got married, started having children of their own.
One day they had business to attend to in Nazareth, so they rode their camels over there. While there, as they had a little time to spare, they decided to visit the local temple, as they’d never entered it before.
Entering, they began walking around, looking over the beauty of the place of worship. Then, suddenly, they noticed several of what they judged to be men of religious bent, standing in a circle facing each other, and appearing to be listening to someone explaining something to them, which they seemed to find fascinating.
Showing normal curiosity, the two young men shifted their path a little to try to see who was talking. And there was a boy in his early teens, talking to the religious men, who seemed to take every word he was saying seriously.
“Luther! You know who I think that is?” said Bradford, in a raised voice that sounded amazed. “Yeah,” said Luther. “We saw him just after he was born, a number of years ago. But how could we recognize him so easy, when we only saw him when he was a baby?!”
THE YOUNG MAN heard them talking, looked up, and his eyes and smile lit up just as they had years ago. “Hi Bradford, Luther! Hang on! Good to see ya again!”
Luther and Bradford were practically unable to talk when the young man approached them and shook hands. “How you guys doing? You still live in Bethlehem?” he said.
The two managed to say, “Yeah!” almost simultaneously.
“I don’t remember seeing you since the day I was born,” the young man said, followed by a care-free chuckle.
The two young men were completely silent by this time. “What on earth is happening to us?” they both thought.
BRADFORD SAID, his voice shaking, “How did you remember seeing us right after you were born?” The teenager laughed and said, “Oh, I remember a lot of stuff. Don’t worry about that. Say, one of these days, not too far off, I’m going to start on a big project that’s going to improve life for millions of people. Would you guys like to help me? I’m going to need about 12 guys, and you two could be the first two.”
The two looked at each other, stammered, couldn’t come up with a “yes” or a “no.” Finally the young man laughed again, said, “Don’t worry; I’ll find you when the time comes.” Then he gave each a firm hug, said, “I gotta get back to the religious guys again,” and walked briskly off.
Bradford and Luther looked at each other again, and finally Bradford said, “Won’t know what’s going to happen until he finds us again, will we?”