Summary: A sermon for Christmas Eve.
“Room In the Inn?”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Both of them were poor, and when they came to the town, no one took notice of them. No one even helped them try and find a place to stay.
The name of the town is Bethlehem which means “the house of bread.”
No doubt the name comes from the fact that the land in Bethlehem was fertile land—unlike most what makes up Palestine—in Bethlehem there were wheat ripened fields, and figs trees and olives grew.
It’s interesting that Jesus Who taught His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread,”….
…Jesus Who would often later be found going to this house or that house to dine…
…to Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum…
…to the wedding feast in Cana…
…to Matthew the tax collector’s house…
…to the home of Zacchaeus…
…to Mary and Martha’s house at Bethany…
…to the home of Simon the Pharisee…
…to the Upper Room where Jesus ate with the disciples at the very end; and then even after His Resurrection, to the house of the two disciples at Emmaus…
…that this same Jesus would be born in a town whose name means “the house of bread.”
Jesus’ life had a well roundedness that no one has even come close to imitating.
He moved in two worlds at the same time.
He had the power of eternal life, and yet at the same time He gave Himself so intimately and fully to the most simple things that humans need in order to survive this life.
When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, he used illustrations like a farmer scattering seeds that would ripen for the harvest or of a woman kneading yeast into a batch of dough, or a man knocking at a friend’s house for bread.
When He observed our struggles to make ends meat to survive He didn’t want us to be anxious but instead told us: “your heavenly Father knows that you need” these things.
Jesus Himself had lived and worked in Nazareth, and He knew about the practical necessities of life.
The God of love understands that you need these things, and the God of love cares.
“seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.”
But Bethlehem represents more than simply the birth of the love of God in Jesus Christ, as a “house of bread” in the physical sense.
It also represents the house of that living bread that feeds person’s souls.
Jesus always saw both aspects of life.
“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” Jesus tells us.
Jesus knows that no amount of accumulated wealth, no amount of food or clothing, no amount of money can ever completely feed our human need.
People can have all the wealth in the world, but if we don’t know how to live, we will turn bitter, disillusioned, and will ultimately fall into despair!
Something inside us will starve unless we are fed by Christ Who said that He has come to be the Bread of Life!
So Mary and Joseph, both of them poor, came to this little town of Bethlehem.
And “while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and” Mary “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.”
Why wasn’t there any room for them in the inn?
Well, it was simply because the other guests had gotten there first.
If Mary and Joseph had gotten there earlier, they most likely would have been given a room.
They were turned away, not because the innkeeper had anything against this young couple, but simply because the inn was so busy with so many other people.
Mary and Joseph had come late. The no-vacancy sign was lit up, if you will. They could not get in, and that is all there was to it.
It’s the way things were.
It’s how it turned out.
How often, though, in our own lives, due to busy circumstances…
…due to all the other things which fill our lives…
…and not because of any out right hostility…
…is Jesus not allowed into the inn of our hearts?
How often have we filled all the space we have with other guests?
How often are our hearts and minds so occupied with other worries, other thoughts, other dreams that there is no room for Jesus?
So often, this world, with it’s noise and business…
…with it’s gadgets, with our hectic pace, and our constant need to be entertained takes complete possession of our time and attention.