Summary: "No Room" was a declaration by God of what Jesus would experience in His ministry. In fact there are only two places where room will be made for Jesus. Do you know what they are?
There was a Christmas program at a church and a 7-year-old boy was chosen to be the innkeeper. When Joseph and Mary approached looking for shelter his line was to simply say “I’m sorry… but we have no room.” But being a good 7-year-old boy that didn’t seem quite right. He looked at Mary and Joseph and said “I don’t have room for you in the hotel, but I’d love to have you come in for milk and cookies.”
That little boy had a part to play. He knew what his line was supposed to be, but he didn’t like the idea of sending Jesus away… so he offered what he could.
Now in my files I have a lot of illustrations that all say Bethlehem was a small town. Have you ever heard of a “one horse town”? Well Bethlehem was a “one donkey” town. It wasn’t big enough for a stop-light let alone an Inn or motel.
The word Luke used here for inn was used back not only for inns, but also for “Guest rooms.” A spare bedroom in a person’s home. Now whether this was referring the AirBnb of the day, or just some room on the floor where guests could sleep, I don’t know! But whatever it was, there wasn’t any space anywhere to be had.
But why not? Why wasn’t there any space for Joseph and Mary? Well, one possibility was that there had been a lot of out-of-towners who’d showed up for the census. Luke 2:1-5 tells us “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” So maybe everyplace was just booked.
But even then - Mary’s REALLY pregnant - you’d have thought somebody would have volunteered to sleep out under the stars to make room for her. BUT nooooo! No, that didn’t happen. Why not? Well, Mary was really pregnant but she and Joseph weren’t really “technically” married. They were “betrothed.” Not quite the same as “sleeping in the same room” kind of married.
Now, she could have told them that the child was the Son of God (and all that) but I’m pretty sure nobody would have bought that line. It’s very likely the reason there was no room for Mary and Joseph and the baby was because they’d become outcasts from their own families. Their family members wanted nothing to do with them because Mary was pregnant and not married and there was no explanation of her pregnancy that made sense.
So, they had to sleep out in the barn. And as she gave birth, Mary had no one to care for her. No midwife, no comforting friend… just her husband Joseph – and we all know how useless some husbands can be when it comes to a woman giving birth.
I find it interesting that Luke clearly points out that there was NO ROOM for them. He doesn’t go in to detail as to why - just that there was NO ROOM! And I think the reason this part of the story was there was because God wanted it there. I think God was making a statement.
1st, I think God was making a statement that THIS was what Jesus was born to be. Kings weren’t born in mangers (that’s a feeding trough for cattle). Emperors would have had numerous attendants on hand to care of the mother and the child. And there’d be no smells of a barn there - no cattle dung, no wet sheep. And there’d be no chance of splinters or snagged clothing because there’d be no rough-hewn lumber in a regal nursery.
One song put it this way: “There were no decorations, no reindeer in the yard. No ‘Currier and Ives’ portrait on a Christmas card. The manger smelled of sheep and goat, and cattle in their stall. There was no Christmas tree down the hall.” (“Looking For A Christmas Tree” by Jeff Strite)
So, what could God have possibly intended to say by having Jesus born in a barn?
One poet put it this way (Grace Noel Crowell) “I am so glad He was not born in some rich palace bed. I am so glad to know it was a lowly place, instead. A place where soft-eyed cows and sheep were sheltered and were fed. For to the country born of earth a stable will ever be a wholesome place, where night comes down with its tranquility, a place of heart’s ease and content for all who choose to see. And so I like to think of Him first opening His eyes in that good elemental place beneath the friendly skies. That the men of fields could find Him there, as well as the great and wise.”