Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do You Have Room?

"She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7

No room in the inn? The Savior of the world was about to be born but there was no room for His mother Mary to give birth to Him. The phrase "no room for them in the inn" is where I have camped my thoughts and study time today. Joseph and Mary returned to their own town, the city of David, to register for the census. Given the numbers of people that had traveled to Bethlehem for the same reason, the city and its "inns" were full.

As I studied, I discovered that the modern Christmas legend that paints the manger scene as a building with guest rooms not unlike a hotel, and a heartless innkeeper that turned a young woman away about to give birth, is rather inaccurate. Digging down a bit, it is found that the Greek word used for "inn" here is not the same word used in other parts of the gospel. The word here, kataluma (inn) actually refers to a lodging place for a guest. It was guest room, if you will, such as one at a personal residence. It is the same word used for the room where the disciples ate the Passover meal, an upper level room. So at the residence where Joseph inquired, the guest room was already full probably due to travelers that arrived before them. They were likely directed to the homeowner's main room, the lower level floor where the animals stayed at night to feed, keep warm, and produce warmth for the owners and guests on the upper level while they slept. It was in a place like that that the baby Jesus was born, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in the manger, the animals' feeding trough.

This paints a different picture than the hotel being full and the couple being sent out back by an insensitive innkeeper to a barn full of smelly animals. In fact, on examining this passage again, there is no reference to animals being present at all. Given the poor status Joseph and Mary held, not being from a line of wealth or notoriety, no special concessions were made. They were likely given what was left available, not necessarily turned away. This leads me back to a quote I penned in the margin of my Bible, "Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus" (Neal A. Maxwell).

Father God, I pray that for the very first time this Christmas, many will come to understand who You are and why You came. May the realization that the Savior of the world was born penetrate hearts and change lives here and around the world today. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment