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The Innkeeper

With Christmas a few days away, are you making room for Jesus. In Luke’s telling of the birth of Jesus he tells us that Joseph and Mary were turned away when they were looking for a place for Jesus to be born. In Luke 2:7 we read, “And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Older translation uses “inn” rather than “guest room.” The Greek word “kataluma” used for “inn/guest room” has several meanings; a guest room (as in a person’s home) or lodging place (as in a boarding house, hotel, or similar establishment). Have you ever wondered who it was that gave Joseph and Mary the “no vacancy” news? It could have been the proprietor of an ancient day bed-and-breakfast or it could have been the owner of a personal residence. Let’s just call this person an “innkeeper.”

vacancyIf you know this story, then you know that Joseph and Mary were returning to Bethlehem to register for a census. It is likely that Bethlehem was bustling with people, all returning to take part in the census, so rooms would likely have been in high demand, maybe even all filled with travelers. And when Joseph and Mary arrived looking for a place to give birth they were told by the “innkeeper” that there was just no room for them.

What caused this innkeeper to turn Joseph and Mary away? A likely answer is that he was preoccupied. He might have been busy with fixing meals, cleaning rooms, making beds, caring for animals, and providing for his family. All good and worthwhile activities. But he most likely saw that Mary was ready to give birth so couldn’t he have made some provision? There must have been some place he could have offered them. But the story tells us they were turned away and ended up in some lowly place that housed animals.

What’s the point of all of this? We are like that at times. The rooms in our lives are filled, sometimes to overflow capacity. Our lives are offten filled with hobbies and work and stuff that doesn’t really matter. Our lives are consumed with activity – not necessarily sinful or bad activity, just things that keep us busy and away from God. And when we are preoccupied, we will often miss the Christ of Christmas.

So this Christmas week our challenge is for you to make room for Jesus at your inn and don’t be like the innkeeper in this story and say “sorry, no vacancy!” Don’t miss the Christ of Christmas!

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina


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