The last few days, I have been talking about the events that surrounded the birth of our Messiah. One person I never gave much thought of before was the Inn Keeper who sent Joseph and Mary out to the stables.
I always wondered if he felt indifferent or embarrassed. Was he ornery and terse, or sympathetic and caring? We don’t know. All we do know is that there was no room in the Inn. Instead, Joseph and Mary were forced to accept the only shelter he had available. It was certainly a poor option, but it was dry and warm albeit, in the company of t he beasts of the farm.
Now, when we are told there was “no room in the inn,” we pictured a harassed desk clerk at an admittedly third-rate country inn telling Joe, “Sorry dude, but all the rooms are booked!” But the eastern inn (or khan) in a village like Bethlehem was nothing like the poorest of modern inns. When he said, “No room,” he literally meant that there was no “place” or “space” on the earthen floor of that grossly overcrowded little resting place for those visiting the town.
We have no idea who first thought of the “stable” or “lean-to” or “cave” where the animals were brought for the night, but as lowly as it might have been, it gave the holy young woman, who God had chosen for this unique honor, shelter. It provided warmth and privacy. And, none of the crowds next door could have guessed what was happening a few yards away!
For me, the most marvelous and amazing thing is that a prophet, nearly seven hundred before, spoke of the negligible little Bethlehem:
You, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are too small to be included among Judah’s cities.
Yet, from you Israel’s future ruler will come for me.
His origins go back to the distant past, to days long ago (Micah 5:2)
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