Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and 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.”
Luke 2: 6-7 (NIV)
We made room for them that day a few years ago. We always will.
Lynda announced that our two precious Granddaughters were coming to spend the day with us while their Mom and Dad went Christmas shopping. Now they could finish hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree which they had helped me pick out for our home a few days earlier, and they could help us decorate the house. In particular, they could place a few more manger scenes wherever they felt they should be. The timing of their visit was perfect—as time with them always is—but, as I was about to discover, for much more than the obvious.
After they had been there awhile, I noticed that Hannah and Ellie Kate had placed one of the manger scenes directly under the Christmas tree—where we usually put the presents. And so when they were both together, a little while later, I drew upon my best Granddaddy wisdom, and asked why they had put that manger set under the tree adding the point that since we usually put presents under the tree “…there would be less room now under the tree for the presents!”
As my words flew out before me and landed with a thud on their hearts, I saw their faces melt into sadness. At that moment I wish I could have taken my words back so the resounding echo of what I had just said would quiet in my brain. But they were both up to the moment with their wonderful Granddaughter wisdom.
“But Gran,” they cried out in one voice, “we first need to make room for the Baby Jesus!”
If we could listen across the centuries we would hear the tramp of millions of feet, all traveling to various parts of the world known at that time, all in obedience to that command of Caesar Augustus. It was a busy road and time and the streets of Bethlehem were crowded, literally overrun with people milling about, talking and trading, waiting to be enrolled, waiting to be taxed. All of the rooms were taken and so we see Joseph forced to find some shelter for Mary, which he did—in a stable. Having passed by the palace of Herod, the dwelling places of the rich, the hovels of the poor, this young couples’ welcome to Bethlehem was in a stable out behind the inn, because as Luke points out in verse seven—“there was no room for them in the inn.”
Welcome to Bethlehem, Holy Family, welcome—to a filthy, damp, cold manger.
It’s symbolic of what would happen to Jesus throughout His life and throughout His ministry. No room for Jesus in the inn. In fact, throughout His life, the welcome was the same, there never seemed to be room. There was no room in the temples or the courts, because His message and his ministry, and who He was—was not understood. There was no room for Him in the lives of so many people. But that has been the case all throughout history—there has been no room for Jesus in the lives of people. Others things seem to crowd Him out.
Why? Why was the Lord of life, the Light that overcame the darkness of the world, crowded out? In a way, I’m not sure the innkeeper has gotten a fair shake over the years since that night. He was preoccupied with running a business, first come-first served, pay your money, and get your room. He was justified in saying no—there was simply no room for the Holy Family in the inn.
But you see, it’s by such seemingly justifiable circumstances as those that the Lord of life is shut out of our lives. Preoccupation, other priorities, things that get there first and which we allow to stay. Things we need room for—like Christmas presents. We don’t mean to be irreverent, it’s simply that our hearts get filled with other guests, other priorities, other things, we have our social obligations, schools to attend, games to win, and after all, we have to make a living. We don’t mean to shove Christ out of our lives. It’s simply that we’re pre-occupied with the business of living, the place is full, there is no vacancy. How can anything else possibly fit into our busy lives?
Another reason He is crowded out might be because of what John suggests in his Gospel—that a darkness existed in the world. A darkness of man against man and nation against nation. It’s a darkness that has come and gone throughout history, and it’s a darkness that at times invades our own lives, where we, too, experience feelings of: uncertainty, bitterness, jealousy, despair, guilt, shame, disappointment or failure. Where we find ourselves in a place where our lives have been overcome by all the problems around us, within us, and on top of us. Yet it’s a darkness that the light of God’s magnificent invasion of our world overcame over two centuries ago and can overcome once again in your life and in mine.
Maybe the innkeeper or other people throughout history—like we tend to do—didn’t leave room for Him because they didn’t recognize the importance of the moment. I mean, if the innkeeper had realized who Joseph was making arrangements for; I wonder if he would have found them a room in the inn? If only he had known that this was the Son of God, if only someone had told him that years later we would date our letters from that night in his stable, and the birth that occurred there. If only he had known, surely he would have made room—wouldn’t he? But, of course that wasn’t the way God planned it.
We, like that innkeeper though, often miss the mighty, the powerful, the tremendous evidences of God, because He chooses to hide Himself in the meek and lowly, in the quiet gentle ways of a Babe in a manger, or in the afternoon ascent of a bright full moon on a clear cold day, or in the brightest star against the darkest night, in a baby’s laugh, or the time-honored wrinkles of a Grandmother’s face. So often it seems that God does things in such strange and quiet ways, that we just don’t see the moments when God is in our midst.
Christmas is coming. We are heading again toward that celebration to be reminded afresh and anew of the birth of the Baby Jesus. Will we make room for Him this year—under our trees, in our hearts, in our lives? Will we allow Him to stay, to guide us, direct us and love us—all the way through eternity?
Christ has come. And we dare not miss Him—because He will make all the difference in our lives. Make room.
Merry Christmas to each of you! Merry Christmas!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2016. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.