“And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
It is a classic scene in the nativity play – Mary and Joseph arrive at the inn, helped by a donkey (that usually seems to just walk along side them rather than carrying Mary), knock on the door and get met by an innkeeper who proudly delivers his line “No room”. Depending on how many children need a part in the nativity play Mary and Joseph may even call at several other inns, only to get the same response – no room.
That first Christmas the people of Bethlehem didn’t know what was about to unfold. They had no way of knowing Mary was no ordinary pregnant young girl. To them, Joseph seemed just a regular expectant father, travelling back to the place of his birth to be counted for a census. They had no idea this was actually the fulfilment of Micah’s prophecy – “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2. The people of Bethlehem didn’t realise they were about to become infamous for having no room for the long awaited Messiah.
There were various reasons why there was no room for Jesus in the inn. The people didn’t realise who it was they were turning away. They weren’t expecting the Messiah to show up there and then. They had dismissed the prophecies as myths and legends. They were too caught up in their own thing.
And the thing is, those same reasons stop us from having room for Jesus today. We can be too caught up in our own thing. We can be busy hustling and bustling getting own with achieving our dreams and goals and Jesus ends up getting pushed to the margins. We don’t make Him our priority and we end up totally overlooking Him. And at Christmas especially it can be so easily done as we get so caught up in buying presents, cooking turkeys and attending parties that there is no time left to reflect on the reason of it all. We must make room for Jesus in our lives.
People can dismiss the message of Christianity as just a myth or a nice story, and that leaves them with no room for Jesus. They haven’t realised that this is not just some legend – this is the truth of God moving into our neighbourhood, coming down to live and die among us, paying the price that we might be free from the guilt of our sin. We must encourage them to consider if this could indeed be true rather than just let them write it off. We must encourage them to make room for Jesus in their lives.
We may not be expecting Jesus to show up here and now. Life may have taken us on some detours from where we expected, and you may be feeling lost, abandoned or just confused. You have given up on the dreams you thought God had given you. You don’t expect Him to come through and work the miracle. The dream seems dead. There has been no fruit for too long. But faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Do not give up home. Keep the faith, for your eyes fixed upon Jesus. Prepare room in your heart for Jesus to move in ways you couldn’t begin to ask or imagine.
Some people don’t realise who it is they are turning away. They don’t realise their need for a saviour. They think they can make it in their own strength. They think they are good enough. They don’t realise that we all sin, and our sin doesn’t just make us bad, it makes us dead. We all need a saviour to bring us from death to life. We all need to accept the offer of Christmas – the offer of new life and a fresh start when we make room in our hearts for Jesus, the saviour of the world.
This Christmas, no matter where we find ourselves, may we take time to make room in our hearts for Jesus. May we not be like the people of Bethlehem who have no room for our Messiah.