An emotional and thought-provoking look at the lives of Jesus and the earliest believers and nonbelievers through the eyes of a contemporary man and his family.
Transport back to the Days of Jesus:
The story of Jesus has been told for over 2,000 years, but not from this unique perspective. Set at the time and in the place of Jesus’s birth and life, The Last Man at the Inn immediately transported me into the lifestyle of spice merchant Simon and his family.
Author R. William Bennett set the stage perfectly as to the conditions that led to Joseph and a very pregnant Mary to a stable (or cave). When Simon later sees that Mary’s given birth, Simon feels the divine spirit, but can’t grasp the significance. His refusal to offer his space at the inn to the pregnant couple weighs heavily on him, the way bad decisions weigh on an otherwise good person.
The turmoil of the day:
As word spreads about the birth, the community and surrounding countries become embroiled in debate. Is Jesus the promised Messiah or not? People struggle with doubt. Others are overcome with joy. Divisions are made. Families split. R. William Bennett captures the essence of the uncertainty at the time. An atmosphere charged with excitement and hope, doubt and anger. People struggling to make sense of the events and rumors.
Transform to believer:
Seeing into the thoughts and doubts of Simon touches on primal human emotions. Over the course of the next thirty-three years, Simon transforms from nonbeliever to believer with the assistance and patience of his family and others he meets.
By the time Simon finally decides to devote his life to Jesus, will it be too late? So as not to spoil a wonderful plot revelation, I will simply say the ending was beautifully written and tied together.
The Last Man at the Inn is important and relevant. R. William Bennett’s writing style is crisp and engaging. His characters are real and likable. The message is a beautiful one of hope. Readers will be enriched for having read this book.
How this book affected me:
I’ve often wondered if I’d been a contemporary of Jesus if I’d have believed He was the promised Messiah or remained a doubter. I empathized with the turmoil that must have existed within families – it seems logical that believing or not believing would have torn many families apart.
My heart ached for the guilt Simon carried for not having done the right thing at the inn, by offering Mary and Joseph his spot.
I was easily transported back into the time period and, as a Christian, found this book to be a delightful spiritual treat.
Who would like this book:
Christians who like either fiction or nonfiction will enjoy The Last Man at the Inn. It will appeal to historians who enjoy books set in the Middle East during the time of Jesus’ life. ‘Hopeful agnostics would appreciate the factual aspects of this book and the insight into the internal struggle, then transformation of the nonbelievers to believers.
R. William Bennett grew up on the Jersey shore and in Connecticut. He is the author of the best-selling Christmas novella Jacob T. Marley and the award-winning book The Christmas Gift. He works as a division president of Franklin Covey. He and his wife are the parents of four children, and they live in the Southwest.
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I chose to read an ARC from Shadow Mountain Publishing. This review is my honest opinion.
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