Saturday, December 14, 2013

No Room

It wasn't a vacation.  It wasn't a business trip.  It wasn't a quick weekend getaway.  They had made the trip to Bethlehem to pay taxes.  The trip was somewhere around 80-100 miles and would have probably taken them over a week.  Mary was pregnant.  It was rather late in her pregnancy when a woman is ready to get this over with.  I imagine her feet hurt, her back hurt, and she was wishing this trip was one she did not have to take.  While, traditionally it is thought that they arrived in town at night just as she was ready to give birth, they could have actually  been in town for a bit before this happened.  There isn't really any details as to how long they were in town.  Scripture just tells us that while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

Back in the day, there was no such thing as a Holiday Inn or a Hilton.  No to find the best deal in town.  Generally, one would stay with relatives.  Because both Mary and Joseph were descendants of King David, and Bethlehem was the known as the "City of David," I don't think its a stretch to assume that both probably had relatives in town.  Distant relatives who would love to put them up for a night or two.  The word "inn" referred to a guest house or guest room in a house.  While traditionally we get a picture of Joseph going to the local "Inn" for a room, it is probably more accurate to picture him knocking on the door to a great uncle's home or 2nd or 3rd cousin's home.  The town would have been full of people in town for the same reason Mary and Joseph had come to town. While on another occasion this family might have a spare room, on this day the house was full.  Its quite possible that they had people sleeping in places they normally didn't sleep just to try to accommodate people.  I don't think the "inn keeper" was rude or uncaring.  On the contrary, I think his house is full because he is caring and accommodating.  He has no room in his guest room, because he has already put some people up for the night. Perhaps he insisted on accommodating Joseph and Mary as well but the best he could do was his stable.  Though he had no room in his house, the least he could do was offer them a roof over their heads even if it meant sleeping with the livestock.

Maybe the picture in my head is completely off, but it just seems to me that if the "inn keeper" would have been an unsympathetic jerk, he would have never offered them the stable. I just picture him as a good guy.  A guy who sees a pregnant woman and doesn't want to send her away.  While he's unwilling to give up his bed, he figures he's got to do something.  He doesn't want to put any of his other guests out, but here's a pregnant woman standing in front of him who is about to give birth at any moment. The stable's not exactly the Hilton but hey at least its got a roof. 

I've judged this guy for years.  But, I'm not sure what I would do in his shoes.  I mean sure if I know this baby is the Son of God, I'm getting my sleeping bag and heading to the stable myself and I'm giving them my bed.  But he's not privy to that information. He has no clue that this baby is God in the flesh. As far as he is concerned this is Joseph, his 3rd cousin twice removed from his father's side of the family who he has only met once at a family reunion.  He's not going to shut the door in their face.  No, he's gonna make room for them somewhere.  It's not much, but it'll do.  It's probably not going to be a "silent night" and it's certainly going to need a little air freshener, but it's better than sleeping on the streets. 

Before we judge this man too harshly, let's step back a bit.  I mean, how different are we than this guy?  We're busy.  Our to-do lists are a mile long.  Our calendars are full.  We've got places to go and people to see.  And there stands Jesus knocking on the door to our heart.  We're good people.  We'll make some room for Him somewhere, right?  We'll give Him an hour here and an hour there. Maybe 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. Sure, its not the best, but it'll do right?  If nothing else we'll give Him an hour on Sunday.  Unless something more important comes up.  He'll understand though.

Why we sit back and judge the inn keeper, we are doing the same exact thing.  We are relegating Jesus to the stable.  We are fitting Him in, giving Him the leftovers.  Then we sit around feeling good about ourselves because we made a place for Him.  What's sad is that unlike the inn keeper, we know who He is.  We are sending The Lord of all Creation to the stable with a sleeping bag and some air freshener, and we feel good about it.

Jesus doesn't want to fit into our lives.  He wants ownership.  He doesn't just want to be first, He wants to be the only pursuit of our heart.  The goal is not to fit Him into our busy schedules, its to put Him at the center of it all.  Rather than an hour here or an hour there, He wants to be Lord of every hour.  He wants to be Lord of every area of our lives.  Its not about reading your Bible, going to church, and praying ritualistic prayers.  It's about an ongoing relationship with the Creator of the Universe where we acknowledge Him in all that we do.  Jesus wants to inhabit every second of every day.  He wants to be Lord of our work and Lord of our play.  He wants to be Lord of the weekday and Lord of the weekend.  He wants to be Lord during football season and Lord during March Madness (sorry sports fans I couldn't resist).  He wants to be Lord of the TV and Lord of the dinner table.  He doesn't want a part of our lives so that we can sit back and feel good about ourselves.  He wants complete ownership.  The stable won't do.  It's not good enough and we all know it.  He deserves the best bed in the house.  He deserves the owner's bed.

He's at the door knocking. Can we make a decision to forget about the stable?  Can we determine that its not even an option?  Can we make a decision to rearrange whatever needs to be rearranged to truly accommodate Him.  Can we truly allow Him to be Lord of our lives instead of just saying it?  I'm sure the inn keeper felt good about himself that night as he made a place for Mary and Joseph.  I don't want to feel good about myself offering my King the stable of my life.   As He stands there knocking on the door, I refuse to declare, "there's no room!" I long to get to a place where I take the stable and give Him my bed.

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