The small town of Bethlehem was usually a quiet, peaceful place. Tonight, however, there were people everywhere. The streets were jammed with tired, hungry travelers. Some people slept in the streets. Others could be seen pounding on inn doors, pleading for a place to spend the night. Among all the confusion and crowds, a little mouse named Tucker was scurrying back and forth trying to avoid being trampled. Tucker finally made it back to his small pile of hay under a feeding box inside one of the many cave-like stables where animals were sheltered. He knew it would be safe and quiet there. The innkeeper’s milk cow, camels, sheep that were not well enough to be out in the fields, and a large
pig that did nothing but lay in his corner and eat and sleep, shared Tucker’s home. The stable would be a welcome sight after what he had just experienced.
It was a wonderful life, for a mouse. From his combined home and hiding place, he could avoid his biggest worry: Mouser, the cat. He could also catch the food that dropped to the dirt floor of the cave while the animals ate from the manger.
Tucker was quite content tonight as he lay in his comfortable pile of hay and looked out at the peaceful night sky. The town seemed brighter tonight, he thought. Perhaps it is from the inns’ every room being lit, he reasoned. Why were there so many people here tonight? Why so much bustling about? What was going on? He had overheard some men talking in the street today while he was rummaging through his favorite scrap pile. They had said something about the Romans and taxes, and although he paused in his munching, he could not understand what it all meant. Could it have something to do with all these people?
Soon, sleep overtook the little mouse and his thoughts were silenced for a while.
He awoke suddenly sometime during the night, to a lantern shining in his eyes and voices coming toward him. He recognized one as being the innkeeper’s, whose stable Tucker had claimed as home. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw the innkeeper, followed closely by a man leading a donkey with a woman on its back. As the stranger gently lifted the woman off the donkey, Tucker saw that the woman was actually a young girl and that she was pregnant. The mouse, now fully awake, lost sight of the people’s faces as they came close. They were standing directly over his manger, so he scurried out from under it and watched from a shadowed corner. The innkeeper was took the soiled hay out of the feed box and the stranger placed the girl carefully on a large pile of hay, beside it. The innkeeper then said something softly, placed his hand on the stranger’s shoulder, and left.
Abruptly, the girl called to the man: “Joseph!” She bit her lip as she fought the obvious pain. When it had eased, she spoke again: “Joseph. Hurry! I do not think it will be long!” Joseph hurried and knelt down beside her. “Mary…” he said. “I do not know what to do – we can’t find a room anywhere! I feel so helpless.” The girl looked at him through her tears, a glow about her face that did not come from the lantern. Breathlessly she whispered, “Joseph, God will take care of us. He told me so, through the angel.” Mary then looked off into the distance. She reverently spoke, remembering what the angel had said: “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will soon be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”
More pain suddenly overtook her, and the stable was filled with her recurring stifled screams and moaning.
Tucker sat in a daze. Was he still asleep? Was this a dream? He slipped back to his hiding place, but he no longer worried about being seen. He lay listening to the screams of the woman with the kind face and gentle voice, and recalled the words she had spoken earlier. Could it be true? Did those things really happen?
Tucker slept very little that night. He was listening to the man and woman beside him, and trying to figure out what it all meant. And what was that light? It was coming from the sky! He scurried out of the stable unnoticed, and looked up at the sky. There, shimmering directly above the inn and its surrounding buildings, was the brightest, biggest star he had ever seen.
As he slowly crawled back inside, he heard crying, but this time it wasn’t coming from the girl. Squirming and crying in her arms was a tiny baby. Joseph was still kneeling beside his wife, looking as tired as the new mother. Both of the strangers were smiling and looked so joyful Tucker could not help but smile himself. He slowly crawled closer and stopped. He did not even notice Mouser sneak up behind him. Even the big, mean cat seemed to feel that something special was taking place, for it just sat there and stared.
After a while, shepherds came running from the fields shouting excitedly to one another. When they reached the doorway of the stable they became quiet and knelt on the ground. They look as though they came just to see this baby, Tucker thought. Although he couldn’t understand exactly what was going on, since he was a mouse, he did realize this was a very special time.
He did not know that what he had just seen take place would change the world forever. That baby was the Savior of the world! Because of what God chose to do, that night and throughout that baby’s life, no one would ever be the same. Through Him, everyone would have an opportunity to accept God’s free gift of Salvation and live with Him forever.
Even though Tucker did not understand who this Jesus was, he never forgot what he saw in his stable that bright, special night in Bethlehem.