Joel, the inn keeper, pulled out his bag of gold and dumped the contents on the table in front of him. Things were going well for His Inn now that the tax season was here. People were returning from throughout Israel to Bethlehem to register in their hometown for the tax. That, of course, meant that they would have to find a place of lodging somewhere in the little city. Many still had families in the area, but there were also lots of folks that had no family nearby. It was winter, and even in Israel, the temperature dropped at night. All this meant more gold for the only Inn in town, and for Joel.
He smiled broadly as he counted the week’s profits. Certainly, he had to acquire more help to keep the rooms tidy and clean, but he had been able to get several youths to work in the rooms, and they had not expected high wages. Yes, it was a very good season, so far. He looked at the map of the Inn. There was still an area that was unoccupied, the King’s Suite so to speak. He kept these two rooms vacant so that he could offer special lodging to royalty should any come. The King’s Suite would bring plenty of gold. Andrew, one of the teens he had recently hired to clean rooms, had questioned this practice, especially if it meant turning needy folks away. The King’s Suite was the only area vacant for the coming evening. Joel expected some argument from Andrew.
Sure enough, just as Joel had returned the coins to the bag, a tall, lean teen knocked on his door. It was Andrew, and he was breathless, “There is a couple outside. They have come all the way from Nazareth, and have been on the road for several days. The man has been walking while the woman rode a donkey. She especially looks tired and VERY pregnant. Please, can’t we open the King’s Suite to them? They look like they really need to rest, and there is something very special about them.”
Joel was indignant! “What? Let commoners into the King’s Suite? Then it might take several days to clean the suite and return it to its present grandeur. No! Absolutely, not. We are full! Tell them to go elsewhere. Maybe a family in the area can take them in.”
It was a crestfallen Andrew that returned to the young couple. “Our boss says we are full. But wait! The stable! Would you be interested in using our stable? I could put in a lot of fresh straw. There are only a few sheep in there right now. They are recovering, and can’t be out on cold nights. We could get hay for your donkey. It will be warmer than being out in this wind.”
Andrew got the couple settled in the warmest spot in the stable before returning to his duties in the Inn. It was several hours laterwhent he looked out and saw a light coming from the stable. “The candles, the straw!…Was the stable on fire?” He ran out to check.
What he saw amazed him! The baby had arrived. He was wrapped in the extra blankets Andrew had provided. Also in the stable were the shepherds that used the area for their sick sheep. They were kneeling in front of the couple. One of them grabbed Andrew’s cloak and pulled him down. “Get down, kneel down. This Baby is the Son of God! The angels sent us back here with the message that He had been born. There must have been fifty of them! We heard the most beautiful music. Look at the glow on the Infant’s face! Isn’t this all just so amazing!”
After a few minutes, Andrew returned to the Inn. He tried to awaken Joel to come and see the New Born King but, of course, Joel could not be bothered. Just as Joel had no room in his inn, he had no room in his heart for generosity, compassion, or faith. While he looked for an earthly king, he missed the birth of the King of Kings.