Are there certain Scriptures that distress you and make you say, “It shouldn’t have been that way?” One of the passages of Scripture that distresses me is Luke 2:6-7, which tells us that there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn when it came time for Jesus to be born. This is why the Messiah was laid in a feed trough in a cold and dirty cave after his birth rather than in a cozy crib in a warm room in a welcoming inn.
This aspect of Jesus’ birth is troubling. It was not befitting for the Co-Creator of the Universe to be born on the ground and then laid in a mangy manger in a makeshift stable in a cave. The circumstances should have been royal. At the least, they should have been comfortable. “I certainly would have found room for a young pregnant woman in my inn,” I hear myself say smugly, without realizing at first that I am convicted by my own statement.
God tenderly exhorts me about my lofty view of what I would have done as a first century innkeeper, based on what I do as a twentieth century Christian. He lovingly, but firmly, points out the ways in which I do not make room for the birth of my Savior in too many moments of my life.
He challenges me to see that making room for the birth of Christ is a potential in our lives moment by moment, hour by hour, not just a theory about how we might have responded as a Bethlehem innkeeper 2,000 years ago. He also makes me see that just as Jesus was born in a stable, his birth again and again in our lives does not depend on riches or fanfare or comfort or convenience or the time of day or what we’re doing at the moment or room at the inn. He is born nevertheless in the midst of deprivation, loneliness, harsh circumstances, inconvenience, any circumstances, in the now.
With every manger scene I see during the Christmas Season, God seems to bring two questions to my mind: “Will you make room for the birth of Immanuel in your life moment by moment? Will you allow Him to be born into whatever circumstance you find yourself?”