Message: Hotel Bethlehem
Scripture Text: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 KJV).
It’s obvious from researching the times of the Bible that there was nothing close to a Holiday Inn in this time of History. The Inns of the day were more like some barns I have visited. These inns did not resemble the Hilton’s, the Ramada’s, the Country Inn and Suites we see around Orland. These inns were basic with no running water, no kitchenettes, no electricity, no indoor bathrooms, only nice dirty out houses and remember the inn rooms were no way near as clean as the Inns of today. They were basic rooms most likely with a mattress on a stone or a dirt floor or if lucky a mattress in a wood frame. By the way the mattresses were not like our poster-pedic mattresses of today either. They were lumpy, bumpy and not designed for helping people with bad backs. The Inn had no ice machines, pop machines, swimming pools, work out rooms, microwaves, frigs, tv’s or cable. No fireplaces in the nicely decorated lobby either! No continental breakfast buffets, or other goodies they were just a basic room with four walls and a roof.
People stayed in these inns for only two reasons: To get out of the elements of the weather, like rain and cold. They also went to Inns for protection from thieves and robbers. These bands of hoodlums roamed the countryside looking for people to rob especially during a time when the whole country was traveling for the sake of the census. So inns were not a luxury as they are today but a necessity while traveling.
Joseph and Mary as they entered Bethlehem came to an overcrowded back country town with Mary weary from the journey and ready to give birth to Jesus. They entered a place that looked more like the roughest slums of today rather than a place of comfort and rest and to their surprise they are turned away from the inns. Remember they would have looked at a Holiday Inn as a palace as a remarkable place of luxury. But no basic inn room for them was available and let’s be honest things looked rather gloomy. I pause a moment to remind you that Mary and Joseph are just like you and me, same needs, same physical limitations, same desire for a bed to sleep inn, same concern for their unborn baby. I want you to imagine their disappointment and feel their stress? Everything they had been through up to this point: The unplanned pregnancy, the supernatural conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, the rumors and gossip, the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and the convincing of Joseph in a dream to stay with Mary, the long journey, the cold, the dodging of thieves, the very uncomfortable Mary right at her due date, they had been through a lot and had high stress levels and now no room for them in the inn.
So they know Jesus is coming and they know He is special! The angel told them so – the miracle of conception confirmed it. He is sent from God to save His people, He is a king from the royal line of David and he is the Savior of the World! They have been told by the angel how blessed they are! “Blessed are you!” – He said “But maybe their response was “Are you kidding!” God does not even allow them to have a simple room to let the baby be born in. Blessed -- so much that they get to stay in stinking – smelling stable? This is crazy! Blessed – I am sure they were a bit over whelmed and questioning the whole blessed idea.
They were turned away from anything resembling comfort or security. Instead they get the offer of a stable, or a cave in a hillside where the animals are housed and tended too. Now don’t forget I have been in barns that are cleaner than most of the inns of that day and they end up in a stinking, smelly, stable, with no heat, no running water, the heat of the stable most likely came from the body heat coming off the animals in the stable. No this place was not a place for a baby to be born or a proper place for a baby to be brought into this world. Let alone a King of the House of David, the Savior of the world!
T.S. - But it was God’s plan and arrangement – He set everything in motion for it to happen right there in that town, in those conditions – it was in God’s eyes a perfect birth for the King of Kings. It was not a mistake or bad luck on the part of Mary and Joseph it was and still is God’s plan.
I. You may be thinking: “Why did Jesus have to be born in a stable of all places?” Could not God have done better?
a. Why didn’t God open a door for him to be born in a palace in the Temple?
i. Why didn’t the Lord have Mary give birth to Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem? He could have been born in the majestic Temple of Jerusalem! A fitting place for the Savior of the world and the king of the Jews.
ii. According to the ancient historical writer Jerome he feels Jesus was born in a stable because “….it would have been fitting for Christ to come into the Holy of Holies in the Temple, but he came into this world in a stinking stable, for us -"Christ found no room in the Holy of Holies that shone with gold, precious stones, pure silk and silver. He is not born in the midst of gold and riches, but in the midst of dung, in a stable where our sins were filthier than the dung. He is born on a dunghill in order to lift up those who come from it: 'From the dunghill he lifts up the poor' (Ps 113:7)" (Jerome, On the Nativity of the Lord, ACCSNT 3:39). From http://www.thesacredpage.com/2008/12/why-was-jesus-born-in-stable.html
1. To Jerome this is why he is born in a stable.
a. He is born in miserable conditions to tell us how low we have sunk away from God. How filthy our sins are to God. He humbled himself out of love to save us from ourselves, our filth even our misery.
b. Others have also felt that Jesus was born in a stable to symbolize that God did humble himself for the sake of love and for the redemption of mankind.
2. Pastor Pritchard notes: If we stand back and consider this one aspect of the Christmas story, some amazing truths emerge. We learn something about God, something about the world, something about Jesus, and something about his followers.
a. POINT: We learn that God uses adverse circumstances that make no sense at the time in order to accomplish his purposes in the future.
b. Romans 8:28-31 confirms this idea: “28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
i. This is a fact of life according to scripture and in those situations where we scratch our heads and say how can this work out for any good?
1. God knows how it will!
3. We need to understand that God knows things in advance and he is not limited to time and space like we are. He is orchestrating the events of this world and even our own lives.
a. He is able to do the impossible!
b. I think in these types of situations we just need to know that God is with us and if He is for us therefore who can be against us and win!
i. Herod lost in his attempt to stop God’s plan - he could not thwart the plan of God.
ii. The Devil could not even thwart the plan of God.
iii. Circumstances could not thwart the plan of God.
iv. Why? Because God is in complete control!
4. Pritchard adds, “At first glance the fact that there was no room at the inn seems like an insignificant detail in the larger picture. But I assure you that it was no small detail to Mary and Joseph. Being turned away at the very moment when the baby was coming must have been devastating. Giving birth in a stable no doubt tested their faith to the limit. Certainly it would not have made sense at the time. Mary and Joseph—no matter how devout they were—simply could not have foreseen how this “negative” turn of events would turn about to be part of God’s plan to bring his Son to the world. They might have believed it, but they would not have seen it in advance… Life is like that—we don’t know what is coming around the corner, and many things we endure make no sense at all. Sometimes they don’t make sense for years to come. And sometimes they never make sense to us. “ http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2003-12-07-No-Crib-for-a-Bed-The-God-of-Every-Circumstance/facebook
a. But it makes sense to God.
iii. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
1. Jesus owned nothing but the clothes on his back, and when he was crucified, the soldiers gambled for his robe. When he died, they buried him in a borrowed tomb. It never sounds like He ever really enjoyed the special treatment that a King deserved!
2. But this was all part of the plan of God.
b. So the simple answer to our question is – “It was part of God’s Divine plan for the world, for mankind, for man’s salvation, for our redemption and for us as an example to follow.”
i. Yes, Jesus deserved better but God choose the more humble and best way to birth His Son into this world. He chose the best way to get His message of Love across to this world and it worked!
1. Jesus came as a servant! God’s plan and will for His birth, life and death.
a. Pritchard notes, “God arranged everything so that the emperor issued the decree at just the right moment and in just the right way so that at just the right time Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem so that they were exactly where the prophet Micah said they would be when Jesus was born (Micah 5:2). It all seemed to just “happen,” but what seemed to be by chance was actually the hand of God moving through history to accomplish his purposes. “If God ordains it, he will make a way.”… “Even though I wrote the question myself, I think it is not strong enough. If we believe in the sovereignty of God, then I think we must believe that God did not simply “allow” his Son to be born in a stable; we must believe that God “ordained” it. There was no room in the inn because God wanted it that way. If God had wanted it some other way, then it would have happened that “other way.”
2. So why did God choose this path?
a. Maybe another reason for this humble beginning aligns with Jesus teachings about what it means to be one of His disciples.
i. Many years later Jesus challenged his followers with this: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). During his ministry he told his disciples also, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). When Christ calls us, he bids us come and die with him and he points us to his own birth, life and death as an example of what he expects us to follow.
T.S. – God chose to have Jesus born in a stable to communicate His Love for us and to show all of mankind that He was willing to humble himself and offer up himself to deliver us from our sinful conditions. He gave up all prestige, power, position and perks to communicate the type of life he wanted us to live as Christians.
II. Another question you could be thinking today is “Why Bethlehem?” “Why not Jerusalem?”
a. The rich history of Bethlehem lays a great foundation for the Birth of Jesus: Ray Scott notes these thoughts from his sermon “Bethlehem”
i. Rachel is buried there - Jacobs wife who died during child birth – It’s interesting birth and death are associated with Bethlehem and her death. 1,700 years before Christ!
ii. Ruth was redeemed in Bethlehem by Boaz her Kinsman Redeemer – rescued from a life of misery and loss – but Bethlehem became known as a place associated with redemption from her story. 1,100 years before Christ.
iii. King David’s birth place, David’s place of being anointed king by Samuel, David’s special place known for refreshing water made famous when he was being hunted by King Saul and was thirsty and His mighty men fought to the well to bring him back a drink of its life giving water of refreshment. 1,000 years before Christ.
iv. The Messiah is prophesied as being born there by Micah 5:2 associating the town with the birth of the Messiah. 700 years before Christ.
v. God orchestrated events in and around Bethlehem for 1700 years to usher in the greatest event of all times - the birth of His son, Jesus. God’s plan – God’s answer to a fallen world! The Bread of Life would be born in a place called “The House of Bread!” He would feed the world life giving food and deliver them from their sins.
b. So Bethlehem is the birth place of Jesus and it is the home town of King David 39x Grandfather of Jesus.
i. They went there Mary and Joseph because God had the emperor call for a census.
1. The Roman Emperor Augustus decided that everyone should be registered for taxation by going to their family’s place of inheritance. Joseph, being a descendent of David, went to Bethlehem, the town of David.
a. Luke 2:1-7: 1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
ii. That Bethlehem was the town of David is clear from Ruth:
1. Ruth 4:11...The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem...13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son....17...And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
2. Remember Ruth was redeemed in this town according to 4:10-11 also an ancestor of Jesus.
3. Samuel notes this about the town of David:
a. 1 Samuel 17:15 But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
b. 1 Samuel 20:6 "If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’
iii. David was anointed King in this town according to 1 Samuel 16:1, 13 - 1,100 years earlier.
1. Another king would be born there and anointed as the Savior of the world!
iv. David was refreshed here according 2 Samuel 23:14-17
1. The Philistines had taken Bethlehem, and David was hold up in a cave there. David desires some refreshing water from the well in Bethlehem. 1,000 years before Christ’s birth who is the one who gives the water of life according to John 7:37. David’s mighty men went there and brought him back a drink!
c. Rachel is buried in this town according to Genesis 35:16-19- Jacobs wife, Rachel died in child birth here 1,700 years earlier.
d. God foretold through Micah that Jesus would be born at Bethlehem as well. 700 years before His birth.
i. Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
e. When Herod wanted to know where the Messiah (Christ – the anointed) would be born, the priests and scribes were able to tell him the words of Micah.
i. Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd (feed/rule) My people Israel.’"
ii. Joseph had to leave Bethlehem and go into Egypt to save the child’s life.
1. Matthew 2:13... an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."
iii. They returned to live in Nazareth; Jesus was brought up there and was known as Jesus of Nazareth.
1. Matthew 2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead."21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
iv. The Jews used the fact that he came from Nazareth to deny that he was the Christ; forgetting (or not knowing) that he had been born there.
1. John 7:42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?"
f. Bethlehem means the ‘house of bread’.
i. John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
ii. John 6:50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.
iii. The following from http://www.thisisyourbible.com/media.asp?id=737
iv. Ray Scott notes, God choose Bethlehem out of all the towns on the earth. Then…through 1,700 years of history…He set the stage for the main event…the birth of His son, Jesus.
Conclusion: Is there room in Your Heart for Christ during this over busy, over booked life of yours?
And so we come to the very end of the story.
What great truth lie behind the simple words of Luke 2:7.
Even the tiniest details turn out to have enormous significance in the Christmas story.
Let me say one final time so we will be sure to catch it. The “No Vacancy” signs were there for our benefit. God could have made a room available. He could have created a hospital or a palace in Bethlehem if he had so desired. The sequence of events that unfolded—the census, the long journey, no room at the inn, “no crib for a bed,” the feeding trough, the “swaddling clothes"—all of it was planned by God even though it all appeared to happen by chance. God willed there would be no room in the inn not for the sake of Jesus, but for our sakes, that we might learn who Jesus is and why he came. http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2003-12-07-No-Crib-for-a-Bed-The-God-of-Every-Circumstance/facebook