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Innkeeper of Bethlehem

Sunday, 12.13.2009, 09:56pm (GMT-5)

Each year at this time, we gather to share in the telling of the birth of Jesus Christ…the Son of God. Through the centuries many peoples' perspectives have been shared…

But not until this very day have we heard from the man history has forgotten. The despised man, the misunderstood man… the innkeeper of Bethlehem!

So let us go now back into history, to the days of the Roman Empire and the Jewish oppression.

“In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because … there was no room for them at the inn.

(Background) I didn’t know! I didn’t know! Tell me, how was I supposed to know!

My name is Tekoa, son of Showbal, son of Reaiah (REE-A-I-AH). Yes! I am the one. I am the one you have heard about. I am the one YOU have talked about. I am The Innkeeper of Bethlehem who turned away the Son of God. I tell you, I am not a heartless man. I can’t take everybody in and I wasn’t going to put my own family out! There are limits! And I tell you… I just didn’t know!

For generations my ancestors were innkeepers. We housed people. It was an honorable profession; a well-respected line of work. We supplied food for the hungry traveler, rest for the weary and we provided shelter from the cold and storms.

(Culture) Nothing like this had ever happened before. Bethlehem was a quiet town. My business was to help strangers. In exchange, I received a few shekels with which to provide food and clothing for my own family. It was a modest life but a good one!

That whole week was most unusual. Our little town of Bethlehem was simply bursting with travelers! It seemed we had more people than the Holy City of Jerusalem itself! The Emperor Caesar Augustus had decided to take a census. His proclamation declared that every man return to the city where his family registry was kept. The good emperor wanted a count of how many people he ruled and how much property each man owned so he could tax him accordingly. Taxes! You know taxes? Taxes are necessary I suppose. They pay for the army to protect us and for the upkeep of the roads so people could easily travel to our city.

(Travelers) Well, that day, it was well after the supper hour when a weary traveler and his very pregnant wife, who was perched upon a donkey, arrived at my doorstep seeking refuge from the night’s chill. There was no room at the inn for them… or anybody else for that matter! That night we had people sleeping in all of our rooms, in the hallway and on the floors. My wife’s family was in town and they took up space in my house (space they didn’t even pay for!). I had to turn this couple away. What choice did I have? The inn was overflowing!

My tenderhearted wife took pity on the young pregnant woman and suggested that perhaps they could sleep in our stable. It may be smelly, she said, but the cave would give them shelter and the body heat from the animals would keep them warm. The mother-to-be smiled and her weary husband nodded. At the not-so-gentle prodding of my wife, I led the young couple down the road and across the field to where we kept our goats and lambs. I found out that there names were Joseph and Mary. He was a carpenter by trade and they had journeyed from Nazareth in the region of Galilee. As I bid them good-night and turned to back to the inn, Joseph began gathering straw to make a bed for his tired wife.

(Event 1) I was tired also. It had been a long and busy day. When I got back to the inn, my good wife and I made our way upstairs to bed. She nodded off quickly but I was restless and lay awake for some time. It was then I noticed a stream of light coming through the wooden slats at the window. Light? How could there be light at this time of the night? I arose from my bed and opened the shutters and there on the hillside far away in the distance was a glorious light.

The sky was ablaze with… angels! They seem to be singing to the shepherds as they tended their sheep. These angels were singing on the hillside and yet I could hear them! How was that possible? They were so far away and yet their voices sounded as if they were standing, not just right next to me, but inside of me! They were praising God, singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” It was a dazzling sight that both thrilled me and yet made me strangely tired. I felt a need to lie down even though I really did not want to and so I went back to bed and fell into a deep and wondrous sleep.

(Event 2) How much time had passed I don’t know, but suddenly I awoke with a start! My eyes were wide open and my heart was pounding. I heard the sound of travelers, the hoof beats of horses or camels, and they were very near. I arose quickly and made my way downstairs. Who could be coming to Bethlehem at this time of night? Only fools traveled in the darkness amidst wild animals and thieves.

I opened my front door ever so slightly to see who was there and I could not believe my eyes! There before me were three splendid riders. They looked to be kings and they were seated upon the largest and most magnificent camels I’d ever seen!

One king was clothed in shimmering green satin with gold chains about his neck.

Another had his garments made of royal purple and was adorned with dazzling sapphires that sparkled even in the darkness of night.

The third was perhaps the most elegant of all. His attire was gold and black, and pearls of white garlanded both he and his camel. They were breathtaking!

Who were they?

Where were they going?

Why were they in Bethlehem?

And why, in Heaven’s name, at this hour?

After they passed my door, I stepped out onto the street and followed them. They did not go far before they turned… into the direction of my stable! My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. There was nothing down there! Where did they think they were going? I watched them as they went down the road and across the field. They each dismounted their camels in front of my stable; removed an item from their travel bags and walked into the manger area. Joseph stood to greet them. I crept closer to see what was happening. The travelers said they came to see the child. Joseph gestured toward Mary and the baby… a baby! She had had her child. I thought about how pleased my wife would be when she learned the news! Mother, father and their three visitors were smiling and talking. I went closer to hear what they were saying.

Each king approached the child with great respect. One by one they fell to their knees and worshipped him. Kings! On their knees… before a child! Unheard of! Why would they worship this baby, I thought? Then they opened their treasures.

The first visitor laid gold at the feet of the newborn.

Gold was a gift fit for royalty. It was precious in all cultures and reserved only for kings. Was this child a king?

The second visitor placed frankincense next to the manger. Frankincense was burned by priests and thought to carry the prayers of the people to the throne of God. Was this child a priest?

The third visitor brought forth the most mysterious gift of all. He gave the child myrrh. Myrrh was used by physicians to treat wounds and also administered as a burial spice. Was this child a Healer, or was he destined for an early grave?

Who is this child that they would give Him such things?

(Event 3) It was then I noticed the star…

It was, without a doubt, the biggest and brightest star I had ever seen. It seemed to hover over the stable and the tail of the star lit up the manger so that it glowed. It was then I remembered words of the ancient scripture…


700 years before the birth of Jesus the prophet Micah of Judah had written:

(Micah 5:2) “But you, Bethlehem [Eff-FRAH-tah], though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth the Messiah the One who will be ruler over Israel.

Close to that same time in Jerusalem… Isaiah prophesied…

(Isaiah 9:6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

500 years… before the virgin birth, the Psalmist foretold the child’s mysterious nighttime visitors.

(Psalm 72:10-11) The Kings of [Tar-sheesh] and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of [Shee-bah] and [She-bah] will present him gifts. All kings will bown down to him and all nations will serve him.

Resume the monologue:

Now I know, this was the Christ Child; the One I head heard of all my life.

My heart was filled with happiness;

My eyes were filled with tears

But my mouth was empty of words.

The One I had hoped for, the one I had often feared was just a fantasy, had arrived! This child, whom they call Jesus, He is the Anointed One; Alpha – Omega, The Beginning & End, Messiah, Redeemer, Savior, Friend.

And of all the places, in all the world, He was born in my stable! My Stable! … my stable? (two brags and one uh-oh!)

Oh! My friends! The Son of God came to my house and I turned Him away. I forced the Christ to be born among the animals! O, my Father, forgive me! I swear to you, I did not know! No one told me but – I am telling you. I am telling you this very night (day)!

This child Jesus is:

  1. The anointed one
  2. The only Begotten Son of God
  3. He is the Christ!

This very night he stands at the door to your heart… and He knocks!

Don’t be too busy to answer.

Don’t turn Him away.

I beg of you, don’t push Jesus away as I did. Instead open your heart, your mind, your house.

Join with me now. Invite Him into your life. Bow your heads and repeat after me… silently to God.

In the beginning was the Word, but I did not understand.

The prophets came but I did not listen and so God sent His son Jesus to

  1. Open my mind and heart
  2. Rescue me from the path of darkness and destruction

Now I know, You are my Saviour! And I am a sinner who needs to be saved from myself.

Now I know, Jesus, You are the Light of the World and You value me despite my mistakes and failings.

Now I know… My God loves me

This day I turn from my sins and more importantly, I turn toward you, Lord

I am desperate for you.

I am lost without you.

I invite you into my heart and I accept You as my Lord and King, my God and Savior, my Master, my Maker, my Mentor. My Rock, my Refuge, my Redeemer, my creator, my Counselor, the Christ and I lack nothing! Amen and amen!

(Pick up the keys) But now we have invited Jesus into our hearts, we cannot keep this Good News to ourselves. (trumpet sound) (Wrap the shawl) We must go now to tell others! We must tell everyone we meet: family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.

They all must know about the birth of Christ. Jesus is The Key to open the door to all that is good in life! We must go now! It’s time to tell the others!

Jesus the Christ is born! We must go now! (leave the stage)



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