Merry Christmas, Reader Friends! We pray that you have a peace-filled time with family and friends as we remember Jesus, the True Reason for the Season! Thank you for stopping by to read David Telbat’s Christmas Story.
A King is Born
By D.I. Telbat
Zophar was a thief. While honest Judeans were meeting the demands of Caesar’s census, honesty was certainly not in Zophar’s mind—nor in his blood, since he was the forgotten son of an Egyptian bandit.
Having lived under the name of Zophar for so long, he had forgotten what his worthless father had called him as a child. Fleeing to the land of the Jews and changing his name had been natural for him. Like stealing.
And on this night, he was applying his trade. Well, he intended to apply it, if he could get past the shepherds, who seemed to be hurrying toward Bethlehem. What was their urgency in the middle of the night?
Zophar had dealt with shepherds before. They were a poor lot, and they fought to keep what they had. However, in Zophar’s wicked pursuits, he had learned to be quite skilled during such confrontations. He even carried a spear—disguised as a staff, until the time came to use it.
In anticipation of using the spear, Zophar plucked the wooden hollow top off the staff to expose the glint of sharpened metal in the moon’s brightness. If the shepherds didn’t give up their purses, they would give up their blood!
When Zophar reached the other side of a small knoll, he expected to come face to face with the shepherds on the path. They would surely pay him what he wanted since they wouldn’t want to tangle with a veteran thief!
Instead, he found the shepherds far ahead of him. What was in Bethlehem that they traveled so quickly, and who was watching their sheep?
Now, out of curiosity, Zophar followed the shepherds at a distance, since he couldn’t adequately get ahead to ambush them. Something was afoot that night. Either the Jews were instigating another revolt against King Herod, or a garrison of Romans had carried out some atrocity, or—
As the shepherds turned into the Tower of the Flock, Zophar stopped on the path leading through sleeping Bethlehem. The place was known far and wide as the chief stable where specially assigned priests watched over the sheep. Activity around the stable—its rock tower dwarfing the inn next door—drew Zophar closer to the torchlight.
“A Baby! The Chosen One of God!” someone exclaimed. “It is just as the angels told us!”
Zophar jumped aside as two villagers rushed past him, hurrying into the stable. Still, confusion plagued Zophar. A baby was causing all this excitement? Perhaps there was a victim or two to be had, after all! But in the stable for sacrificial lambs? Maybe he could catch someone outside, like a wealthy priest who prided himself in showing off his wealth. This midnight gathering could actually pay off!
Where the torchlight shimmered, Zophar edged closer and peeked into the stable. The shepherds were there, and a few townspeople. A young woman lay on blankets on the ground, against sheaves of grass. Two women tended her, speaking quietly. There seemed to be no sign of any wealthy men with fat purses.
The shepherds were kneeling, and a baby cried out from a manger. A manger? So, a baby had been born and was laid in a manger. Why all the fuss about angels and chosen ones?
“You may go in, if you want,” a man said from the shadows nearby.
Stepping away from the light, Zophar realized this stranger had been watching him this whole time. He didn’t like being watched. The man was sitting on a pack next to a donkey. If there was better light, Zophar could have assessed the speaker’s occupation and wealth merely by examining his clothing. It was a gift Zophar had.
“What happened here?”
“My wife has born a Son. His Name is Jesus.”
“Congratulations.” Zophar relaxed a little and eased back toward the light. Who was this man? He couldn’t quite place the accent. “You have many relatives in this region. It seems to be a birth most anticipated.”
“For hundreds of years, yes. But no, I have no relatives in Bethlehem, anymore. I am just a poor carpenter from Galilee.”
“A Galilean.” Zophar snorted. He should’ve recognized the accent. Nothing to be had from the likes of this man. He had enough problems with a new baby to care for. “Why all the visitors?”
“The shepherds?” The man chuckled. “They’re probably from outside of town. Angels in the field told them to come and find this Son lying in a manger, wrapped in the only rags we could find.”
“No, they came from—” Zophar stopped and cleared his throat. “I mean, I think I’ve seen them on pastures some distance away.”
“I guess that more firmly confirms their angel story, then.”
“He will be the King!” a shepherd shouted at the stable ceiling, perhaps too loudly in the presence of a newborn, but no one shushed him.
When Zophar looked back at the carpenter, the man was now standing in the light, too close for Zophar to feel comfortable, but Zophar was too mesmerized by the stable scene now to step away.
“There’s something you are not telling me.” Zophar hoped his guess was right. “Something is happening in this place. You are not just a carpenter. I don’t believe it.”
“I am just a carpenter, but He…is not just a baby.”
“What?” Zophar leaned toward the manger. “Is He deformed? Perhaps a hideous sight? In Egypt, there are stories of such infants being cast into the Nile—for their own good, of course.”
“No, Jesus is not deformed. He is the Promised One, the One God has sent us to save His people from their sins.”
“That’s foolishness.” Zophar heard himself say the words, but something inside him suddenly caused him to believe the carpenter’s words. “I have heard the prophecies… They’re ancient.”
“They are called prophecies for a reason, friend.” The carpenter stepped even closer and took hold of Zophar’s spear. Startled, and to Zophar’s shame, he had forgotten to replace the hollow covering over the spearhead. “This is not the place for this.”
Zophar tried to pull the spear from the man’s hand, but this carpenter was strong and had a hand accustomed to bulky tools. Instead, the carpenter twisted the spear shaft sharply from Zophar’s hand with such calm force that Zophar was left with an aching wrist. A criminal bested by a carpenter from Galilee?
Defenseless, Zophar took a step back. Obviously, this carpenter was no normal carpenter. This was no normal night. And the Baby in the manger was no normal baby!
“Tell me who your Son will become,” Zophar said, not liking the demanding nature of his own voice.
“He is of God. I saw an angel myself in a dream. He will become all that God intends Him to be, I assure you. These humble beginnings will not hinder Him.”
“He will lead your people against the Romans? I do not believe it.”
“I do not know all that He will do.” The carpenter shrugged, then leaned the spear against the outside of the stable. “But the prophecies are clear. ‘Messiah will reign from Zion.'”
From the door, Zophar gazed at the manger.
“I will be an old man when He is old enough to rule.”
“We both will be old.” The carpenter sighed. “Does that change what we can do for Him now? I suspect that is why the shepherds have been sent by God. Sometimes we must do what we can, when we can, because we cannot do so later.”
“I am…” Zophar paused, his shoulders sagging. “I am not worthy to look upon a King, even a baby King.”
“And, I am not worthy to be a King’s father, but here I am.” The carpenter set a heavy hand on Zophar’s shoulder. “Perhaps our lack of worthiness is of no regard when it comes to honoring the Chosen One of God.”
“What do you mean?”
“This night is not about us, friend. Go see Him. He is the Son of God. I promise you—He will change the world.”
Zophar stepped toward the manger and knelt among the shepherds. With a stirring in his heart, he beheld the King, the Chosen One, the carpenter’s Son named Jesus.
When Zophar left that morning, he departed with the shepherds to share the story with anyone who would listen. A King had been born, and angels had proclaimed His birth! Amongst such miracles, Zophar hardly noticed that he had left his spear behind.
For more short stories by D.I. Telbat, click these links:
Short Adventure Stories
Extractions and Longer Stories
Last Stand Chronicles–Custom Stories
Free eBook of 6 Short Stories: COIL Extractions
Visit the following title link to read a FREE SAMPLE of
Dark Liaison, Book One in The COIL Series
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