Summary: there is one more person hiding in this Christmas story. – Luke does not mention him directly. We do not know his name either, yet we can see him there quite clearly. He is a well-known person, standing in the background of this sentence: “There was no ro
We often have a feeling that the people we know, or the events we experience on a regular basis cannot surprise us with anything new and therefore they cannot enrich our lives anymore. Christmas is just like that. Only children can still be amazed by everything that is happening during that time – by its beauty and special “events”. It is not especially exciting and maybe not even appealing for us adults. We know its typical atmosphere and we know what will go on. We know exactly what kinds of cookies our wife or mother-in-law will bake, what will be on the festival table when we return from church, which Christmas movies will be broadcast on TV, as well as what Bible lessons the pastor will read in church. – I am pretty sure we are also familiar with the text we just read. We know the setting where Jesus’ birth took place, we know the names mentioned in the story. – And yet! If we dare to dive into the depth of this fantastic story and stop just skimming the surface a brand new message will appear.
I am not sure if you noticed it when reading this text quickly but there is one more person hiding in this Christmas story. – Luke does not mention him directly. We do not know his name either, yet we can see him there quite clearly. He is a well-known person, standing in the background of this sentence: “There was no room available for them.” – Yes, in my Christmas Eve sermon I want to focus on the owner of the Bethlehem inn who had to tell this unpleasant news to Joseph and Mary: “We are full; there is no room for you.”
Since the Scripture did not assign him any name let’s try to give him one. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves one question: Isn’t this nameless man a picture of someone who is sitting in this church? Shouldn’t I attach my name to this character? Isn’t it me who does not have room for the coming King?
Three things about this nameless man will help us understand his actions, and therefore our own as well.
1) It is obvious that each inn has its accommodation limits. A census does not take place every day so it is no wonder there were no vacancies. There was no room for anyone. – This situation seems like a picture of the life of a contemporary person. Our lives are often so full of so many responsibilities and worries that there is no room for anything else. How often do we realize that we do not have any time left for any of those things we consider so important in the corner of our hearts. We must take care of so many tasks that it is naive to even think we could manage anything else. – You may not be rejecting Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in any deliberate way, you may be telling yourselves that you believe in Him, He is your authority, and in spite of that, you do not have enough room for him. The business of our lives and lack of time simply do not allow for some things. And yet the solution is so simple. Why not re-evaluate our lives and make the changes?
2) But let’s look at the Bethlehem inn owner from a different perspective as well. We do not have to see him in such a negative way. May-be he was a man who was trying to do everything that was in his power. Our story could have happened in a totally different way. Even though all the beds were taken, he, as a decent inn owner, did not send the shelter seekers away. Of course, he did not offer them his own bedroom but at least he offered the stable as an emergency shelter in the advanced stage of Mary’s pregnancy – a place to sleep overnight. He at least did something.
Even today’s decent, often well-educated people treat Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in a similar way. They do not reject him completely, they do not go against him openly but in the end they leave him on the periphery of their lives. These people will never say directly: “Don’t bother me with your faith, it is not for me!” I have heard a number of people say: “I believe in a God.” Yet, I felt some hesitation in their statements. They did not appear to be willing nor ready to recognize Jesus Christ as God´s only Son. The Saviour has been left forgotten somewhere on the side, in a stable outside of the house. – But the Son of God is expecting us to invite Him into the most important places of our lives, to the places where we live, where we work, where we think, where we make decisions, and where we spend our leisure time. Let’s ask ourselves again: Do I really have the best place ready for the Lord Jesus Christ? Or do I just keep him around in a case of an emergency, like an insurance policy for such time when I am not able to cope with something on my own, when I am not able to change something by my own power?