How Christmas began, 6

I WAS NOT A HEARTLESS INNKEEPER (Luke 2: 1-7).

It all happened unexpectedly. How was I to know what heaven had planned for my place? Caesar had ordered our people to return to their place of origin to be counted for taxes. I could not possibly pay all the taxes for the people that had left Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David. I liked what the Roma Emperor had ordered. It was a good and fair decree regarding taxation. There was another reason I had not given much attention. It was the rumor that our Redeemer was on His way and that He would arrive in Bethlehem. Both the Romans and our false King Herod were keeping watch over us. I did not expect that my humble place would attract the Prophet Moses had promised would come. Then, why would He come as a simple man from Galilee with a young pregnant wife riding on a donkey? What better disguise could anyone have used in order not to arouse suspicion?

I was not heartless. I just had no more room to accommodate more people. I was in the hostel business and rented rooms and space to paying travelers that arrived first. The carpenter and his wife were able to pay, but I had nowhere to put them. I felt for the lovely young woman and suggested that they settle in my animal shelter, because I knew that there were no vacancies in any of the homes. Our town was filled to capacity. People were living everywhere there was shelter. The couple from Nazareth was desperate and fortunate to find a spot in my stable. The woman was about to give birth. I had no idea that their Baby was about to attract so much attention. The couple arrived late and the evening turned bright. There was this mysterious star that seemed to hang low and light up my place. The “Baby Boy” was barely born when some shepherds came down from the hills and blurted about the “Baby Boy” being God’s Deliverer of Israel. There was otherwise nothing unusual about the Child. After some guest had left, I moved the new family into a home. The young mother needed time to regain her strength from giving birth to her first born whom they named Jesus. The name had something to do with Joshua. He was the leader that settled our people in this land. The name meant, “God is our salvation.”

I found it to be a bit amusing how a baby could deliver us from our enemies? After the counting had ended, I anticipated that everything would go back as it was before the Roman edict took effect. We did enjoy a brief time of rest while the parents met their legal obligation to the child in the Temple and then things really began to happen. One morning, while I stepped outside, I looked at a host of people that were camping on our property. I had seen caravans before camp and pass, but not like this outfit. They were not traders but travelers from afar. They had camels, servants, guards and portable huts. One hut was open and several men looked like royalties. They appeared to direct one of their servants to talk to me. He approached me quickly and knelt down in front of me and in my tongue delivered a strange message. “We have come from the East and we have followed a star that has brought us to your place. Our lords wish to see the one that was born “King of the Jews. It was his star that led us here.” I stood speechless for a moment to gain my composure. Then, I merely nodded my head and the man understood that I had to ask permission from the parents of the child. While I went inside, a crowd gathered around the caravan.

Jesus’ parents were not prepared to face such a public display. My inn was not large enough to host it. These visitors anticipated our predicament and rolled out carpets with cushions to sit on in front of my home. Hesitatingly, the parents brought out their baby and reclined on the cushions and then the unbelievable happened. These royal dignitaries knelt down before the baby Jesus and worshipped Him. Then they showered the Baby King with gold, incense and myrrh. They arose quietly and returned to their huts. We all retired for the night, contemplating what it all meant.

The next morning, I hurried outside to have a look at the caravan, but it had disappeared. I then hastened to inquire of the family that had brought all that had happened to my inn in Bethlehem; they, too, had gone. My first thought was that they had left with the caravan. Later that day, some one saw them leaving in a hurry going in the opposite direction of the caravan. In all that took place, I was not even able to learn their names, except that their boy was called Jesus. After the event had ended, Herod’s soldiers appeared and began to kill all male children under the age of two. The King had taken the Seer’s message of a Jewish Baby King seriously and felt threatened.

It was painful to hear mothers cry and mourn. They were paying an exuberant price for the life of one baby. I would have helped saving them, had I known who these strangers were and where they went. It was as if heaven had hid their exit and identity, and I never heard about them again. I wondered, who it was, whom God was protecting at the cost of so many other boys? We, of course, had to keep on hoping and waiting for our Messiah. From what had happen to us, it was unlikely that any one claiming to be our deliverer was safe from our authorities. It was sad that we had no room in the inn for a Joshua, but even more so when there was no place for Him in Israel.