Now what do I do? Levi’s half-way through his story about the magi and the donkey’s ready for my shepherd search. “The donkey can wait,” suggested Levi. I thought for a second and remembered my editor’s advice, “never interrupt a man that’s talking.”
“Alright, lets finish the story,” I agreed.
“Each of the Magi carried a small chest as they walked in,” Levi began without noticing that Dan had joined us at the table. “For a few moments they stood and admired the baby cradled in Mary’s arms. Then one of them, the oldest one I think, began to explain their presence.”
‘We have come from a far off place in search of the newborn king of Judea. The heavens foretold his coming and a star led us to this very house.’
‘We are told,’ began another, ‘that your scriptures prophecy concerning his birth, and that the baby is more than a king – He is the Messiah of God.’
‘Therefore, we have sought the child in order to worship the newly born king and Messiah.’ explained the third magi. “At this point each knelt before the family,” continued Levi. “It was a strange and awesome sight. The magi in fine silks, bright sashes, and tall turbans kneeling before a poor family from Nazareth dressed in dull homespun.”
“Tell him about the chests,” Dan encouraged.
“I’m getting to that,” Levi replied momentarily distracted by Dan’s presence. “The older one spoke next. ‘We bring gifts for the child from our homeland to honor and bless him, gold.’ The older magi opened a small chest filled with gold coins. ‘Frankincense,’ the middle magi announced. The sweet aroma of frankincense spilling from his open chest. ‘And Myrrh,’ intoned the final magi.
“I understand gold and frankincense, but why myrrh?” I asked.
“It is a bit odd to give a spice used to anoint a body for burial. I asked the older magi about it later, ‘we brought what we were impressed to bring,’ was all I got out of him. Anyway,” Levi said wanting to continue the story, “after the gifts were presented the magi bowed in worship.
‘We are blessed by your gifts,’ Joseph replied.
‘We will treasure this moment and tell the child about it always,’ added Mary.
‘What will you name the child?’ the older magi asked.
‘Jesus,’ the mother softly replied.
The magi conferred briefly and then the old one spoke, ‘I understand that, in your tongue, Jesus means God saves, it seems to fit the child.’ With that the magi rose, bowed once more, and proceeded from the room. The next morning they, the magi, and the young family were mysteriously all gone.”
“Where did they go? I asked. “Did they leave a note or anything?”
“Both left a gold coin, well beyond what was owed. But I have no idea where they went.” Levi answered.
“I know where,” injected Dan. We both stared at him for a second.
“Go on boy, you won’t get in any trouble,” assured Levi.
“Joseph came to the stable early the next morning to get his donkey ready. He asked me to help him pack and that I was not to tell anyone. I asked him why they were leaving so suddenly. ‘Do you believe in angels?’ he asked. I nodded. ‘One came to me in a dream and warned us to leave for Egypt because King Herod is going to try and kill Jesus. The angel also told me that the magi have also been warned in a dream not to return to Herod.’”
“Did Joseph say anything else?” I asked.
Dan thought for a moment, “Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to tell Levi something. ‘Thank you for your hospitality, the gold coin should cover our expenses. May God’s blessings be with you.’”
I sat back to ponder Dan and Levi’s story. Levi’s right, I can’t publish this until Herod is dead, it would be too dangerous. But, could this baby, this Jesus, be God’s Messiah? That would be the scoop of the millennium. I made a mental note to ask a rabbi friend about the prophecies concerning the messiah when I returned home. Well, that leaves my angel sighting shepherd. “Dan, show me the donkey. I need to find a shepherd.”