No room at the inn
One of the troubling facts of the first Christmas account is the incredulous report that Immanuel, God with us, would be born in a stable because there was “no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7).
Amazing. The most important event in human history was transpiring, and it is happening in a barn. Let that sink in for a moment. We tend to glamorize it today. We picture it as a quaint, quite comfortable setting today. We forget that it was a smelly, dirty and really quite uncomfortable situation for a young couple about to give birth to their first born son.
LeslieLelandFields puts it into perspective when she writes, “Let the stable still astonish. Straw– dirt floor. Dull eyes, dirty flanks of donkey. Crumbling, crooked walls. No bed to carry that pain, and then the child–rag-wrapped and laid to cry in a trough. Who would have chosen this? Who would have said, ‘Yes, let the God of all of Heaven and earth be born here in this place?’ Who but the same God who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts and says, ‘Yes, let the God of Heaven and earth be born in this place,” (Karon, “Jan Patches of Godlight,” Penguin Books, New York, NY 2001).
Now I can think of a number of reasons why there was no room back then. Two-thousand years ago this couple were unknowns. The baby about to be born, as far as anyone knew — except for Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah — was just another baby. While there was no room in the inn, the inn-keeper was not the heartless man we so often paint him to be; he at least permitted this couple to utilize his stable for the night.
Sadly, these 2,000 plus years later, even though we celebrate the birth of Christ, to so many people he is nothing more than an anonymous figure in history. They’ve never taken the time to get acquainted with the one who is central to the celebration. Like spoiled children at a birthday party, we want to enjoy the benefits of the party, but in our own selfish little minds, we make ourselves the center of the festivities, not the birthday boy.