Theme: No Room in the Inn
In these lessons on the birth of Christ we focus on its paradoxes, and how these show that Jesus’ coming is for all who will receive him.
Scripture: Luke 2
Another related paradox comes in at this point: When Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay. As a matter of fact, there was no room even in the inn. When Luke says there was no room in the inn we have to understand him to mean there was no room for them anywhere. If there had been a place, they would have gone there. When they could not even get into the inn, they ended up in the stable, and that is almost to say there was no place for them at all.
This is worth thinking about. It means that there was no room for this couple in the places of the mighty. There was no room for the Christ in Caesar’s palace. Caesar did not even know of the birth. And if he had, he certainly would not have taken the family in. There was no room for this family with Quirinius, the governor. He would not have bothered. There was no room among any of the important people.
There was no room among the philosophers either. If this family had been in Greece and had appeared in the Agora where the wise men met, the philosophers would not have taken them in.
You may say, “Well, surely the Jews would have done better if they had known.” But as a matter of fact, they did not do better. There were families of means in Bethlehem. Joseph was of the house and lineage of David. His ancestral home was Bethlehem. Would not some of these good families have taken him in? No! Good families take care of good families. The rich take care of the rich. Usually, they do not take care of poor families, which was the case here. So when we read that there was no room for them in the inn, this really means there was no room for them anywhere—not with the mighty or wise, not with the rich or poor, not with Gentile or Jew.
We are inclined to say, “Well, that was then. Certainly if Jesus were around now people would make room for Him.” But no, as a matter of fact, He would receive the same reception today as He received nearly 2,000 years ago. It is true that He was an infant then and there was a slightly different connotation to His being rejected. It was a simple case of insensitivity to an expectant mother and her need. But our insensitivity is even worse today, because we know what Jesus Christ stands for. Jesus Christ comes as the Son of God. He comes as the one who by His very presence exposes and condemns our sin. He comes as the Savior saying, “Come unto me that you may have life.” He says, “I am the way to the Father.” That is good news, but people do not want that message today any more than they wanted the message in that earlier day. We become sentimental at Christmas and are inclined to say, “Oh, yes, we would certainly receive Christ.” But, as a matter of fact, we do not, unless God by His grace opens our hearts to receive Him.
What is another paradox related to Jesus’ humble beginnings?
How do you see people today treat the Lord Jesus Christ in the same way as he was at his birth?
Reflection: Think back to the time when you left behind a merely sentimental appreciation for the Christ of Christmas, and came to know him in a saving way. Praise God for his grace in revealing the truth of the gospel to you.