Summary: There was no room to be found for Mary and Joseph to stay in Bethlehem? Seriously? You'd think someone would have taken pity on a VERY pregnant woman that day, but no one did. Why not?
Several years ago, a church held a Christmas pageant with a group of 4 year-olds. Everything went along pretty well until Mary and Joseph “arrived” at the inn. The 4 year-old Joseph asked: “Do you have any room for us?”. “No,” replied the innkeeper, “the inn is full.” “But it’s so cold outside, and my wife is going to have a baby. Don’t you have any place for us?”
The little innkeeper paused for the longest time before saying: “I’m not supposed to say this, but you come right on in.” (Christy Ehmann in Christian Reader Nov/Dec 99)
Our Bible passage for this morning says that (Mary) “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
Now, down through the ages, there have been a few misunderstandings about the Christmas story. Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th (more likely it was at the latter part of the month of September or early October. And, there’s nothing about Mary riding a donkey (or anything else) into Bethlehem. And, despite what you may have seen as a child growing up - Jesus wasn’t born in a red barn… it was a cave under a house (when I went to Israel, my guide told me there is common agreement that they’ve found the cave Jesus was born… and it was in that cave that Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate. He stayed there because he wanted to be close to the place Jesus was born). And the 3 Kings? Well, they were never called Kings in Scripture (wisemen), there’s no number of wisemen given… and they didn’t even show up when Jesus was born. They arrived about 2 years later.
And of course, most scholars take great pride in telling us that Bethlehem was too small to have a “Days Inn.” One scholar noted that “The Bible never mentions an innkeeper. In fact, it’s possible there was never even an ‘inn’ at all. A recent study notes that the Greek word normally translated as “inn” in Luke 2:7 is best translated as a ‘place to stay.’ (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-popular-misconceptions-christmas-story/)
Now, that’s nice. Totally irrelevant but that’s nice. And the reason it’s irrelevant is because the main focus of the Scripture was this - there was NO ROOM for them. Whether in an INN or in a HOUSE there was NO ROOM! The question is this… why not!? Why wasn’t there any room for a very pregnant mother and her husband to stay?
Now, granted, Bethlehem was crowded. “Caesar Augustus (had decreed) that all the world should be registered. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” Luke 7:1 & 3
So, everybody who’d ever been born in Bethlehem… came home. The problem was that Joseph and Mary were late to the party. All the available space had been taken. But, you’d have thought SOMEBODY would have been like that 4 year old in the play. SOMEBODY could have taken pity on this expectant mother. SOMEBODY could have made room. But there was NOBODY. There was NO ROOM… anywhere. No one made room for Christ. Why?
Well… I have a few thoughts on that. 1st – The reason there was no room was because Jesus didn’t fit into their lives. John 1:11 tells us “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” People rejected Mary and Joseph partly because they had their own lives to live. They had a place to stay, Mary and Joseph didn’t. Tough. We got here first. In order for them to have a place to say, others would have to have given up their place, and they couldn’t be bothered. Letting Jesus be born in their room/house was inconvenient.
ILLUS: Now, I’ve been noticing that people haven’t changed much over the years. Jesus is becoming more and more inconvenient in our culture. I went to a Sam’s Club a couple weeks before Halloween… and they’d already started setting up their Christmas Decorations. One of these days, they’ll start decorating sometime after July 4th. And you can’t blame them. Christmas is THE major sales event of the year.
So I’m making my way down through the aisles and I’m looking at all the Christmas yard ornaments, thinking maybe I might but something for decorating my yard this winter. And I noticed they were selling all kinds of yard ornaments: there were Santas, and Reindeer and Candy Canes and Lollipops.
But I noticed that something was missing from all their Christmas displays. Can you guess what it was? That’s right, there nothing about Jesus. No manger scenes; No wisemen from the East; No star to light up the heavens. Even angels were off-limits. And the music at the store… Santa was in, Jesus was out.