25 Days of Christmas – No Room at the Inn
Luke 2:6-7 “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
Mary and Joseph have made it to Bethlehem, and just in time too. At least that is what all the Christmas pageants would have us think. It’s the story we are all familiar with. Joseph and Mary show up in Bethlehem. She’s ready to go into labor. Joseph runs around to every inn in the area and no one has room for them. Finally they meet a kind innkeeper who offers them the use of his stable. But the passage doesn’t tell us this, does it? It doesn’t show the urgency of our traditional Christmas Pageant story.
“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth”. She was pregnant when they left on their journey but no where in the bible account does it say she’s about to deliver before they leave for Bethlehem. Maybe the journey made her labor begin. Or maybe they were in Bethlehem and after a time, days or weeks, she began her labor. The record isn’t specific.
And what about the inn? Did they really go searching for an establishment to stay at? A hotel of some sort? Bethlehem was not a large town. If there were inns, Bethlehem would probably only have one for the whole town. Most Jews would stay with family. It would make sense that Joseph and Mary would head to his family and stay there. The word used in this passage for inn is kataluma, which more correctly translates as guest room. Odds are this is the inn Joseph found was already occupied, probably already occupied by other relatives in town for the census. But Joseph is family and Mary is full term so they offer the stable as a room.
This wouldn’t be all that strange. Mary would be due to deliver soon and that means the passing of blood and bodily fluids. She would be unclean. Good Jews couldn’t have that in the house because of the ritual cleanliness rules. And anyone whose ever been in a delivery room will tell you that it stinks. The stable would be a place near the house but far enough away to meet the cleanliness regulations. It would be relatively clean. And it would serve to fulfill the prophesies God wanted filled. The shepherds would be able to get there. God’s son would be delivered in a stable and be placed in a manger. Could that manger even be one that a younger Joseph made himself? We don’t know but it is a possibility.
So maybe Jesus wasn’t turned away from all who loved Him. Maybe He wasn’t born in a ratty stable or cave. He WAS born to grow up, minister, die for our sins, and conquer death so that He would pay the price for our sins and redeem us. If there is one universal truth we can take away from the story of Joseph and Mary not finding room at the inn it is this: There wasn’t room for Jesus at the inn, and there isn’t room for Him in many people’s lives. Are you one who has no room for Him? Don’t turn Him away! He’s going to come back regardless of whether or not you have room for Him. Better put out the welcome mat! See you tomorrow…