Theme: The Savior of the World
We see the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Joseph, the innkeeper, the shepherd, Mary, and the angels.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
The innkeeper is not mentioned in the story, so it is a bit forced to speak of the birth of Jesus through his eyes. On the other hand, we are told that there was no room for the family in the inn, and most people therefore rightly recognize the implied existence of the innkeeper and properly note his indifference to this the most important and wonderful event in history.
This man symbolizes the world. So the way the innkeeper looked upon the birth of Jesus is how the world looks upon it. It is how you probably look at it unless you have been born again. How is that? With indifference basically, or with hostility if the claims of Jesus seem to be too demanding, extreme, or persistent. True, the woman was with child. She did need a decent place to give birth. But there was only so much space to go around. The others were there first. And, he would have reasoned, he did have to make a living! And besides, the Galilean couple were poor, and poor people have to cope as best they know how. It was apparently unthinkable that the innkeeper should go out of the way himself, offering his own accommodations to the couple.
The shepherds have always captured the imagination of people who read this story, for there is something exquisitely sweet, simple, and compelling about them. We are told by ancient writers that shepherds were poorly thought of, so much so that they were not even allowed to give testimony in a court of law since it was assumed they would lie. They were usually regarded as thieves, However, even if we did not know that, we sense almost instinctively that with the shepherds we are dealing with the very bottom of the social scale, with the poorest of the poor and possibly with outcasts.
How do you suppose the shepherds looked at Jesus’ birth? It does not take a great deal of imagination to realize that they must have been amazed and grateful to know that the Savior who had been born in Bethlehem was for them. They could easily understand how he might have been for the important people like Herod or the priests or even the wealthier families of even such a small town as Bethlehem. But when the angel appeared to them, the poorest and humblest of all the peoples of that day, and when he calmed their fears, saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (vv. 10, 11), they would have realized with a great and growing wonder that this was to be no distant, elitist Savior, but a Savior for all who would call upon him, even the poor.
It was equally amazing, when they heeded the angel’s words, went to the city of David, and actually found the baby “wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (v. 12), to realize, as they must have, that not only was Jesus the Savior of poor and downcast people (as well as those who were privileged), but that he was actually one of them. He was not in a beautiful crib in wealthy surroundings. He was in a manger in a stable beside a humble inn.
That is probably what above all else makes this story so appealing. We can read about kings and queens and heroes and other great men and women and be thrilled and entertained by those stories. But we do not identify with those characters except in our fantasies. This is the story of a king who did not remain high and lifted up but who became one of us, indeed one of the lowliest of us so that we might easily come to him and know him. If Jesus had been born in a palace, we can be sure that the shepherds would never have gotten into see him. But in a stable? Among the animals? No one was going to stop them from going to him there.
In the same way, today no one is going to stop you from going to Jesus, if you really want to go to him. He is for you, whoever you may be, high or low, rich or poor, highly sought after and esteemed, or disregarded. Jesus is your Savior, if you will have him. He is the Savior of the world,
How does the innkeeper symbolize the world in the story of the birth of Christ?
How were the shepherds viewed at the time of Christ’s birth?
What is remarkable about the angel’s appearing to the shepherds instead of to rulers or priests?
What would the circumstances of Jesus’s birth have meant to the shepherds?
What is the significance of his birth today?
Reflection: How often do you have the same response as the innkeeper when a need is before you?
Application: If you don’t already know Jesus as Savior, don’t wait any longer. Take time to pray and receive him today. Do you know someone who needs Christ? Talk to them about him this week.