The Bethlehem Businessman

The Bethlehem Businessman

Featured in the December, 2002 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News

Bethlehem was a good place to make a shekel. The market was always busy. Farmers brought their barley and wheat. Others had grapes and olives to sell. Shepherds from the Judean hills sold sheep, wool, and goats’ milk. In the merchants’ stalls you would find beautiful silk from Damascus. There were also finely-tooled leather goods.

Caravans passed through Bethlehem on their way to Hebron and Beersheba in the south. The local inn had a steady if not flourishing trade. Travelers often stopped in Bethlehem on the way to Jerusalem, just an hour’s walk to the north. Here the hotel rate was lower than in the larger city.

But then came the opportunity of a lifetime. Caesar Augustus decreed a census. Everyone must return to his home town to register for taxation. Many would be coming to Bethlehem. The local innkeeper anticipated 100% occupancy as he prepared the rooms for the guests. He was right. Every place was taken as the huge wooden door was closed for the night.

The guests were sleeping. At his little table with the oil lamp burning he was counting all the money that he had received when he hears a knock on the door. As he opens it just a crack, some Galilean peasant is asking for a room, only to be told, “There is no room.”

But there is an urgency in the man’s voice as he tells that his wife is about to have a child and he must find a place. He is sent to the stable.

The next day, the market is abuzz with rumors about a Baby being born, angels appearing and shepherds visiting the newborn.

The hotel is now empty, the census is over and the innkeeper is cleaning up his rooms. The work is easy because he is a happy man. He has a bag full of shekels, but…he has no Savior. He did not realize Who it was he turned away when he was so busy making money.

Someday the Bethlehem innkeeper will be knocking on a Door. But it will not open!