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Thread: The Innkeeper

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    Default The Innkeeper

    by: John Piper

    Jake's wife would have been fifty-eight
    The day that Jesus passed the gate
    Of Bethlehem, and slowly walked
    Toward Jacob's Inn. The people talked
    With friends, and children played along
    The paths, and Jesus hummed a song,
    And smiled at every child he saw.
    He paused with one small lass to draw
    A camel in the dirt, then said,
    "What's this?" The girl bent down her head
    To study what the Lord had made,
    Then smiled, "A camel, sir!" and laid
    Her finger on the bulging back,
    "It's got a hump." "Indeed it does,
    And who do you believe it was
    Who made this camel with his hump?"
    Without a thought that this would stump
    The rabbi guild and be reviled,
    She said, "God did." And Jesus smiled,
    "Good eyes, my child. And would that all
    Jerusalem within that wall
    Of yonder stone could see the signs
    Of peace!" He left the lass with lines
    Of simple wonder in her face,
    And slowly went to find the place
    Where he was born.
    Folks said the inn
    Had never been a place for sin,
    For Jacob was a holy man.
    And he and Rachel had a plan
    To marry, have a child or two,
    And serve the folk who travelled through,
    Especially the poor who brought
    Their meal and turtle-doves, and sought
    A place to stay near Zion's gate.
    They'd rise up early, stay up late,
    To help the pilgrims go and come,
    And when the place was full, to some
    Especially the poorest, they would say,
    "We're sorry there's no room, but stay
    Now if you like out back. There's lots
    Of hay and we have extra cots
    That you can use. There'll be no charge.
    The stable isn't very large
    But Noah keeps it safe." He was
    A wedding gift to Jake because
    The shepherds knew he loved the dog.
    "There's nothing in the decalogue,"
    He used to joke, "that says a man
    Can't love a dog!"
    The children ran
    Ahead of Jesus as he strode
    Toward Jacob's Inn. The stony road
    That led up to the inn was deep
    With centuries of wear, and steep
    At one point just before the door.
    The Lord knocked once then twice before
    He heard an old man's voice, "‘Round back!"
    It called. So Jesus took the track
    That led around the inn. The old
    Man leaned back in his chair and told
    The dog to never mind. "Ain't had
    No one to tend the door, my lad,
    For thirty years. I'm sorry for
    The inconvenience to your sore
    Feet. The road to Jerusalem
    Is hard ain't it? Don't mind old Shem.
    He's harmless like his dad. Won't bite
    A Roman soldier in the night.
    Sit down." And Jacob waved the stump
    Of his right arm. "We're in a slump
    Right now. Got lots of time to think
    And talk. Come, sit and have a drink.
    From Jacob's well!" he laughed. "You own
    The inn?" The Lord inquired. "On loan,
    You'd better say. God owns the inn."
    At that the Lord knew they were kin,
    And ventured on: "Do you recall
    The tax when Caesar said to all
    The world that each must be enrolled?"
    Old Jacob winced, "Are north winds cold?
    Are deserts dry? Do fishes swim
    And ravens fly? I do. A grim
    And awful year it was for me.
    Why do you ask?" "I have a debt
    To pay, and I must see how much.
    Why do you say that it was such
    A grim and awful year?" He raised
    The stump of his right arm, "So dazed,
    Young man, I didn't know I'd lost
    My arm. Do you know what it cost
    For me to house the Son of God?"
    The old man took his cedar rod
    And swept it ‘round the place: "Empty.
    For thirty years alone, you see?
    Old Jacob, poor old Jacob runs
    It with one arm, a dog and no sons.
    But I had sons . . . once. Joseph was
    My firstborn. He was small because
    His mother was so sick. When he
    Turned three the Lord was good to me
    And Rachel, and our baby Ben
    Was born, the very fortnight when
    The blessed family arrived.
    And Rachel's gracious heart contrived
    A way for them to stay—there in
    That very stall. The man was thin
    And tired. You look a lot like him."
    But Jesus said, "Why was it grim?"
    "We got a reputation here
    That night. Nothing at all to fear
    In that we thought. It was of God.
    But in one year the slaughter squad
    From Herod came. And where do you
    Suppose they started? Not a clue!
    We didn't have a clue what they
    Had come to do. No time to pray,
    No time to run, no time to get
    Poor Joseph off the street and let
    Him say good-bye to Ben or me
    Or Rachel. Only time to see
    A lifted spear smash through his spine
    And chest. He stumbled to the sign
    That welcomed strangers to the place,
    And looked with panic at my face,
    As if to ask what he had done.
    Young man, you ever lost a son?"
    The tears streamed down the Savior's cheek,
    He shook his head, but couldn't speak.
    "Before I found the breath to scream
    I heard the words, a horrid dream:
    ‘Kill every child who's two or less.
    Spare not for aught, nor make excess.
    Let this one be the oldest here
    And if you count your own life dear,
    Let none escape.' I had no sword
    No weapon in my house, but Lord,
    I had my hands, and I would save
    The son of my right hand . . . So brave,
    O Rachel was so brave! Her hands
    Were like a thousand iron bands
    Around the boy. She wouldn't let
    Him go and so her own back met
    With every thrust and blow. I lost
    My arm, my wife, my sons—the cost
    For housing the Messiah here.
    Why would he simply disappear
    And never come to help?"
    They sat
    In silence. Jacob wondered at
    The stranger's tears.
    "I am the boy
    That Herod wanted to destroy.
    You gave my parents room to give
    Me life, and then God let me live,
    And took your wife. Ask me not why
    The one should live, another die.
    God's ways are high, and you will know
    In time. But I have come to show
    You what the Lord prepared the night
    You made a place for heaven's light.
    In two weeks they will crucify
    My flesh. But mark this, Jacob, I
    Will rise in three days from the dead,
    And place my foot upon the head
    Of him who has the power of death,
    And I will raise with life and breath
    Your wife and Ben and Joseph too
    And give them, Jacob, back to you
    With everything the world can store,
    And you will reign for evermore."
    This is the gift of candle three:
    A Christ with tears in tragedy
    And life for all eternity.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Innkeeper

    Thanks Will,

    very moving and emotional written...