No Room in the Inn | Are you Listening?
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”
The Christmas story begins. “All the world”—everyone needed to travel to their perspective hometowns and register—the first time the Roman world had undergone a census. So men and women, old and young, the busy and the unemployed, the important and the homeless had to travel home as mandated by the government. The scene opens with busyness as many traveled long distances home.
Mary was far into her pregnancy and she and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a trip scholars estimate would have taken around 8 days.
8 days of finding inns or camping along the road with others traveling home for the census. 8 days of meeting others along the way. Did she tell anyone she was carrying the Messiah? Did she announce she was a virgin and her child would be the Savior of the world? Did anyone talk with her and sense God’s presence? The scriptures don’t give any insight.
Mary and Joseph finally arrive in Bethlehem. Mary is about to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah. And everyone is too busy to notice. The inns are full, the doctor’s are with other patients, and no one offers their home to the young couple.
Luke 2 says, “the time came for the baby to be born” just as they arrived in town. Jesus, the Almighty King, is born in a humble manager, because “there was no room in the inn”.
We’ve all heard the Christmas story. But I want to focus your attention on someone who is not given more than one verse much less a name: the innkeeper.
The innkeeper is too busy to recognize the importance of the people standing at his door. He is busy working hard and he simply tells the truth that his inn is full. But his busyness with ‘good things’ and absorption in his own responsibility doesn’t land him a prominent role in the story of Jesus. He misses a chance to host the birth of the Everlasting King. The Prince of Peace. The Lord of Lords. In the story of Jesus, the innkeeper becomes the person who responsibly declared, “The inn is full”. He just didn’t have time for anyone else. He missed knowing the Savior.
The Bible tells us the child we see in Luke 2 grows up to heal the blind, cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead. During His time on earth, Jesus historically reveals himself to ‘the least of these’–to the outcasts, the prostitutes, and those without an ‘important’ job (i.e. shepards and fishermen). In other words, you don’t need to have your act together, sobriety and abstinence on your record, or have even read the Bible to have an encounter with Jesus. All you have to do is be willing and listen.
Could you put aside all the wrapping, cleaning, buying, and endless Christmas music and listen with me? Will you join me this week in celebration of the birth of a Savior who speaks in gentle whispers and who longs to know each of us?
I pray this season you experience the presence of Jesus in a way you never thought possible, but you need to stop and pay attention. Slow down and create margin for Him to speak.
Let’s stand at the gates of Bethlehem ready to offer our hearts to the humble King. Responsibility is important, but should be cast aside should the Savior come knocking at your door. Are you listening?
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