THE INNKEEPERS TALE–A Different Kind of Christmas Story

It’s amazing to think how a night so seemingly ordinary could be filled with such wonder and adoration.  How could the most magnificent and important birth in all of human history take place in such meager and drab surroundings?  I was there, I know the story.  I saw them when they came into Bethlehem.  He was tired and worried about her.  She was weary and yet her eyes held a knowing expectation of the glory that was to come.

So who am I?  I am the innkeeper. 

You have heard of me in the Bible.  I was the one that turned them away that night, having no rooms available.  All I could offer was my stable and so that’s what I did.  I knew that the woman was ready to deliver the child at any time so I gave them what I had. So sit back and relax, let’s take a journey back to Bethlehem. 

It is a night that almost everyone has heard of.  It is the story of the very first Christmas. Here is my tale. 

It is my brush with the SAVIOR.  It is the day that heaven came down to my inn.

That time in Bethlehem was busy to say the least.  When the decree came that all men would have to go to their place of birth to be registered, the buzz immediately began about the money to be made.  The shopkeepers, the innkeepers and the tax collectors were ready to make some extra money.  I had been booked solid for weeks when the young couple came to town. 

There were many weary travelers that had come into town but there was something about this couple.  I have never seen a man so gentle and so caring towards his wife.  And the way she looked at him, like he was her protector and yet she was also taking care of him.  And the sparkle they had in their eyes, like they held some sort of huge secret.  It all makes more sense now looking back. 

When they showed up at my door, I was tired and a little irritated at the travelers seeking a place to stay.  When the knock came, I threw open the door and before me stood a very pregnant young girl and her betrothed.  When they asked for a room I quickly snapped that there were none left here.  Then she looked up at me with those eyes that touched my soul and stirred my compassion.  I myself am a father of two girls and I would not have wanted my pregnant daughter to have no place to sleep at night.  So I gave them all I had left, the stable where the animals slept.

The stable was small and smelled, well, like a stable, but it was dry and warmer than the Bethlehem streets.  The girl turned as they left and met my eyes with hers and smiled a smile of thanks that gave me chills.

So the young couple took their donkey and made way to the stable.  I watched them from the door between the inn and the stable.  He made her a warm place in the straw with some extra blankets he had brought and his own cloak.  The love and protection that this man felt for his wife and child was like none I had ever seen before.

I closed the door and went on about my business in the inn, tending to the guests, making sure there was wood for the fire and food for in the morning.  Little did I know what the morning would bring.

It would later come to my mind what the Scriptures foretold from the prophet Micah, “But you Bethlehem, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (5:2) Every God-fearing Hebrew in Bethlehem was familiar with that verse.  We were all waiting for Messiah to come and deliver us from the Romans and re-establish our kingdom.   I still can’t believe the way He came and how He lived and how He died.

I awoke that night to a bright light streaming into my window.  I quickly woke my wife to show her this glorious light.  I pulled back the curtain and looked outside.  It was the dead of night and yet the sky was filled with a light brighter than a thousand suns.  Peering out further and looking up I could see a magnificent star high in the sky.  I ran outside and looked up; it looked like it was directly over the stable where the young couple was.    I ran to the door of the stable and pushed it open to see what was causing this light…

When I looked inside, it was the most beautiful sight I had seen, and right then I knew.  The young girl was holding a precious infant in her arms.   Her betrothed was beside her and all around was that heavenly light.  The animals were quietly gazing at the baby. 

It seemed as if all heaven was singing at this little one’s birth. 

Indeed, as I would soon find out, it was. 

Not long after that, a group of shepherds that had been out in the fields surrounding the city came to my stable after following the star.  They too had seen it from the fields.  What they told me next though sent chills down my spine.

For them what was a normal night watching over the flocks turned extraordinary when an angel of the Lord burst out of the sky.  The glory of the Lord was all around them and they fell to their faces afraid for their lives.  What had seemed to be several hundred years of silence from the Lord, since the days of the prophets, was to all of a sudden end with this proclamation:  “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is today in the city of David a Savior, who is CHRIST the Lord.  And there will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”  As soon as the angel had finished speaking, hundreds of angelic voices burst forth in a joyous noise, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

I could scarcely believe that the Lord would come to these men, these shepherds, first to proclaim the arrival of the Savior.  Yet here this baby was in a manger, the manger in my stable! 

As the shepherds crowded around the baby, the wonder and adulation was evident on their faces.  They knew they were in the presence of God.  They realized that they could only bow before Him in wonder, for when you are in the midst of holiness; all you can manage is to fall on your knees and lift up your hands in praise.

I stood up and peered down at the sleeping infant.  Was He the one that would be the deliverer of Israel?  Was I standing in the presence of my King? 

I could not have known then what I know now.  That those hands and feet and body would be pierced for my sins.  That he would die and spend three agonizing days separated by our sins from the presence and love of His father.  And most importantly that He would forever conquer the chains of death by rising up on the third day.

The wise men came from far away, following the star and finding the child.  They brought gifts for Him, gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Most importantly though, they brought the gift of worship.  It seemed so unfitting that the King of Kings was only welcomed by us–an innkeeper in a small town, a ragtag band of shepherds, and wise men from the east.  Even as an innocent baby, we knew He deserved so much more than these humble beginnings.

They stayed with me for a while and then the father was told to take his wife and young son and flee to Egypt from the wrath of Herod.  I was forever touched by this encounter with Jesus. It truly changed my heart and my life. 

I followed His life and His ministry for the next thirty years. I heard of the miracles and the compassion showed to the multitudes.  I saw Him pick his band of disciples from the fishermen, tax collectors and tent makers.  I watched as He preached amongst the outcasts and the Pharisees.  I took His words to heart and His call to follow Him seriously.  I watched at the Passover as He was led up the hill with the cross on His battered shoulder.   I heard Him cry out to the Father on the cross in agony.  I cried as His lifeless body was lifted down and placed in a tomb.  I waited in anticipation those three days to see if what He said was true.  I stood astonished at the tomb where the stone was rolled away and the body was gone.  I rejoiced when I found out that He was alive. 

I am a very old man now and my days are coming to a close.  I can’t wait to see Him again. My God who came as a baby and lived perfectly as a man, died a criminals death and will come back as a conquering King.  I am thankful for that night in the manger, where I gave Him my best, all that I could give.  I know He knows me and will call my name when I get to Heaven.  I am forgiven and justified.  I am a simple Innkeeper.  You have heard my story of my brush with the Savior. 

What is your story?