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Christmas: Joy to the World! (Luke 2)

By Mark O. Wilbanks
It wasn't much of a place -- but it was his. It had been his father's before him, and his father's, and so on. There weren't many places like this in town.

It wasn't much of a town. Just a small town down the road from Luke 2, but it was the home of King David. In fact, this very inn was built on land that belonged to the family of David. Some said it was the exact spot of the house where David was born. Imagine that! A king being born right here! That made the town special -- but still not very big.

He thought about that on this day of all days. People were streaming in -- still streaming in from everywhere. He had never seen so many in his town. Where did they all come from?

Business was good -- almost too good -- at his place. All the thatched rooms were taken. People were even camping in the courtyard. The sights, sounds and smells of people and animals milling about almost drowned out the sight and sound of the coins now tucked away in a safe place.

As he moved about the crowd, he watched and listened. He was still nervous about some of the things he had seen and heard. There was a great deal of anger and hostility in this bunch of weary travelers.

The orders from Rome were being bitterly opposed but grudgingly obeyed. The census was Caesar's way of keeping the Roman boot on the necks of the Jews. No one liked it, but what could you do? The penalty for rebellion was swift and certain. So they came. It was more than inconvenient. It was galling to the proud people who were united in their common hatred of everything Roman.

Those born of the house of David had to report to the home of David -- to this little town whose name meant "the house of bread."

"Well," thought the innkeeper to himself, "if any more show up, there will be no more bread."

The mood of the travelers had begun to change. There was an almost festive attitude now. He breathed a sigh of relief as he turned toward the gate of his inn. There were still more seeking admittance. Only a few more, and then he would have to turn them away. There was little enough room now, and some were beginning to complain.

Night was falling. He glanced to the distant hills. The glow of the cooking fires meant that the shepherds of the temple flocks were settling down for the evening.

He laughed to himself about the irony of it. Those dirty, profane shepherds tending animals that were destined to be used for sacrifices in the holy place in the Temple. What a contrast: lowly shepherds and unblemished lambs. Those shepherds wouldn't even be allowed entrance into the temple grounds to see their perfect animals used in the rituals. They weren't good enough, but their animals were!

"Oh, well," he sighed, "who said life was fair?"

He turned again to the gate. More travelers. He had already sent some away. His inn was simply too crowded to accept any more lodgers.

Opening the gate, he saw the two of them standing there. They were sagging against the donkey tied to the post. The three of them had the same look about them. Man, woman and beast were utterly exhausted. In the dim light, it was hard to distinguish their features. But by the swell of her robe, it was obvious that this was a very pregnant woman.

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