Luke 2:1-7 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the fall of 1775, the manager of Baltimore’s largest hotel refused lodging to a man dressed as a farmer. The manager thought that his lowly appearance would discredit his Inn. The man left and found a room in another place. Shortly thereafter, the manager discovered that the man he had refused lodging was none other than Thomas Jefferson, then Vice President of the United States. Immediately he sent a note to Jefferson and invited him to return as his guest. Jefferson replied by instructing his messenger: “Tell him I have already engaged a room. I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no place for a dirty American farmer, he has none for the Vice President of the United States.” http://www.sermonsearch.com/content.aspx?id=25815
There was no room for Jesus in the inn. Like Thomas Jefferson, Jesus engages spaces where He is welcome and wanted. He doesn’t dwell in places where people consider Him to be a burden or a bother. He comes to those who make room for Him, who seek Him, who want to know God through Him more than they want anything or anyone else. Is Jesus welcome in your life?
Oh, where is the Christ Child of Christmas?
Now, what have they done unto Him?
God sent His dear Son from heaven:
a Gift, to save us from sin.
But on that historic, first Christmas
they could not find room in the Inn.
Christ was born in a barn, with the cattle–
on some hay, in a musty feed bin.
They call this the blest Christmas season.
Excitement explodes through the air.
The streets are so crowded with people
who dash in and out, here and there.
They’re driven into a wild frenzy.
They’re caught in the mad buyer’s snare.
But where is the Christ Child of Christmas?
Have you seen Him around anywhere?
The streets are ablaze with bright lighting.
The malls are all bursting with toys.
We see Santa Claus and his reindeer
enticing small girls, and wee boys.
There’s holly, and tinsel, and trinkets.
There’s music, and laughter, and noise.
There is food, and there’s fun, and there’s frolic.
But it’s hard to find any real JOY.
Oh, where is the Christ Child of Christmas?
Pray, what have we done unto Him?
Is He pushed away off in a corner?
Or lost midst the wrappings and trim?
He stands at the door, and He’s knocking.
Will we be inviting Him in?
Or will CHRIST be removed from our XMAS
just because we’ve no room in our inn?
Let’s talk about a few kinds of people who had no use for or no room for Jesus. Verse 7 tells us the Innkeeper had no room for Jesus that night. Do you know how many hotel owners and managers would thrill over hosting a famous person today? How they would go out of their way to clean and prepare the most luxurious room they had in order to host the guest in style? They would probably move things around to make the room look bigger or even redecorate so that it was set to impress. They would go out of their way to welcome the guest. But on that silent night, there was no rearranging. There was no accommodating. There were no special privileges extended. There was no room for Jesus.
What a missed opportunity on the part of the Innkeeper. I would like to suggest the Innkeeper represents those who are so preoccupied, so busy that they don’t have time for Jesus and wouldn’t recognize Him if He knocked on their door in the flesh.
It was a busy time in Bethlehem. The census had called all of the city’s native-born home to be counted. Many people had traveled a distance to comply and needed a place to stay. The Innkeeper was loving that! His lodge was full. He was making some cold hard cash. But the crowd would have kept him hopping. Everyone needed something. Running a hotel can be crazy, especially when you are full.
I am not suggesting that the Innkeeper was hostile towards Jesus. He wasn’t likely mean or antagonistic. He was just busy. I know a lot of busy people that are nice people. If they stopped long enough to sincerely think about things they would say all evidence points towards a Creator and loving God and that history even history outside of the Bible points to the true existence of Jesus’ life full of miracles. They would even likely say they believe in the Virgin Birth, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and in the Gospel message that Jesus is the only way to the Father and the only way for forgiveness of our sins, but their lives don’t reflect any of those beliefs. Their busyness has crowded Jesus out.
People are busy with making money. Busy with parenting. Busy with friendships. Busy with hobbies and pastimes. Busy with earthly commitments and deadlines. Busy running here and running there. When a person is consumed with busyness they become blind to all other things. People can be too busy to see a miracle; too busy to hear an angelic message, too busy to notice God has come near.
Christmas by nature is a busier time anyway. There are family commitments, shopping to do, preparations to make, assembly of toys, cards to address, the list can go on and on. It’s interesting to me that Jesus came during a busy time. He came when the city was hustling and bustling as people came to register for the Census. The lyrics to “Silent Night” are pretty much inaccurate. All may have been bright, but all was not calm! It wasn’t really a silent night. I think Jesus was making a statement by entering the world at a busy time.
Busyness breeds confusion and chaos. Jesus entered to bring stability to bring calm to establish order. We would do well to order our lives around the Prince of Peace rather than our kids’ sports schedules and the boss’s expectations. Easier said than done, I know. I think the key is in prioritizing our thoughts, making sure we acknowledge God every day and asking Him what His will is for our lives. Making room for Jesus begins by acknowledging His presence every day. From there we must be open to receiving Him whenever He manifests His presence or desires. In other words, we live our lives in such a way that His presence and His desires for us will stop us in our tracks and command our full attention. Let me illustrate using a passage from Luke 10:38-42.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
When you have a guest in your home there are things that must be done. There are meals to cook, beds to prepare, and a house to clean. Martha wasn’t doing a bad thing or even a wrong thing, but she was too busy to do the best thing which was to sit at the Lord’s feet while He was talking. If Mary was that intent on listening, He must have been saying something important. He wasn’t just making small talk. Mary knew that even though there were things to be done it wasn’t time to work for the Lord, but to listen to Him.
As long as we live in these bodies on this earth there will be a pace to life that will always be busy to some extent. Even some people who retire wind up being busier than they were when they worked. Busyness, however, that crowds out the miracle of God and the voice of the Holy Spirit is busyness that can distract us from what is really important and can kill our souls.
Someone else who had no room for Jesus was Herod. He represents people who are SELF-ABSORBED. Herod lived for Herod. Anything that didn’t benefit Herod was done away with. Anyone who didn’t benefit Herod was done away with.
Herod would stop at nothing to secure his throne, his control, his power. He killed some of his own family, including his sons and one of his wives when they became a threat to his authority. Everything was so all about him that when he died he ordered that the leading men in the community be brought together and killed right after he died so that people wouldn’t gather to celebrate his death, but would be in mourning over those he had killed. Herod, we’re told, in Matthew 2 commissioned the Wisemen to find the baby Jesus under false pretenses. He told the Wisemen he too wanted to go and worship Him which couldn’t have been farther from the truth. He wanted to kill Him. You know someone is bad news when God sends multiple angels to warn multiple people to stay away from him.
When Herod realized the Wisemen weren’t coming back to give him the news of where Jesus could be found, he ordered all baby boys 2 years and younger be killed in hopes of taking Jesus out with one of them. Horrible awful stuff. The bottom line is, Herod wouldn’t tolerate the notion of someone else being in charge. He stopped at nothing to preserve his right to rule.
While Herod’s antics were horrific and extreme there are many people living today with a self-absorbed mindset. They answer to no one. They are accountable to no one. They listen to no one. No one can tell them what to do or when to do it. They see people as indispensable if they don’t seem beneficial to them personally. Self-absorbed people have no room for Jesus because they can’t surrender control. They don’t have a submissive spirit.
There are self-absorbed people who see Jesus as an interference. He might mess with their power. He might change their plans. He might have a different idea about who or what they should become, and so they don’t get close enough to Him to find out what it might mean to have God on the throne of their lives instead of themselves.
It would have been tough to convince Herod that he really should worship this new baby-King as well. After all, when Herod spoke, people listened. In fact the historical accounts I read to prepare for this message said Herod’s reign was a time of unprecedented growth and construction. Herod had reasons to think highly of himself. He commanded people’s attention and loyalty, and he was a creative thinker and master administrator. He had some great leadership qualities. However, great leaders who are accountable to no one become dictators who are destined to become blind to themselves and hated by others.
Putting Jesus on the throne of his life would mean dethroning himself, and Herod wasn’t about to be dethroned. Unless self is dethroned we cannot be saved.
Luke 9:23-24 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Only in giving control of our lives completely to Jesus will we truly find the life that is worth living.
Jesus came into the world so that we could be saved, but in addition to salvation from sin we need salvation from self! People who are self-absorbed are focused on the here and now. They are about making a name for themselves, acquiring things, climbing a ladder, gaining attention, achieving something in this life with little care about what is next. They fail to recognize that God can lead them far better than they can lead themselves. You want to live life to its full? Surrender to Jesus. You want to make the most of your gifts and talents? Surrender to Jesus. You want to have peace with God and peace with others? Surrender to Jesus. You want to have a reputation for doing good? Surrender to Jesus. You want supernatural help through life’s challenges? Surrender to Jesus. You want to prosper in your business, in your community work, and in your home life? Surrender to Jesus. And if you want to live forever in heaven in unbroken fellowship with God when you take your last breath here, surrender to Jesus!
Self-absorption can take on many forms. It’s not always about seeking power or prestige or position. For some people the self-absorption is a form of self-preservation as a result of pain people have suffered. Some people have become skeptical and untrusting. They’ve put up walls that keep them from being able to receive God into their lives. They’ve been burned by people and have put God in the same category as the perpetrators who deceived or wounded them. God is now at arm’s length. The problem with putting someone at arm’s length is they can’t embrace you. Self has to be dethroned in order for God to embrace you, and if God can’t embrace you He can’t heal you.
Jesus came with more than salvation in His hands. He also came with healing in His hands, and people who have no room for Jesus are people who will be stuck in a wounded place. Jesus cares about your soul, yes. But He also cares about your emotional well-being. He cares about the scars on your heart. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Can you hear Jesus speaking this morning? He’s saying, “I’m not like the other people you know. I don’t increase your burden, I lighten it. I won’t wear you out, but I will increase your strength. I won’t take from you, but will give you everything you need. I won’t be mean and harsh, but will have your best interest at heart. If you let me lead you, you will live in peace and at rest.” If you are hurting today and have shut God out because of pain in your life, today is the day to make room for Him to come in and heal you.
The final category of people who haven’t made room for Jesus (at least for this morning’s discussion) is religious people. Listen to Matthew 2:4-6 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”
When Herod heard Jesus had been born, he knew how to find out where the Messiah would be born. He knew the Wisemen weren’t talking about just any ordinary baby king that had been born. He knew they were looking for the Christ, the Messiah, on this journey. So Herod knew the people he should ask for some details about the birthplace were the religious leaders. Now follow me.
The religious leaders had the knowledge of where Christ would be born. They knew the Wisemen had seen a star that indicated it had taken place which was also prophesied in Scripture they had learned, but the religious leaders, the ones who had the knowledge didn’t have the interest to find Jesus for themselves. They passed on information to Herod about Bethlehem being the birthplace but they had no desire to investigate for themselves. They didn’t care that Jesus had been born. It was like it had no impact on their lives whatsoever.
We have people teaching in leading seminaries across this country who have all kinds of knowledge. They could tell you all about Bible characters in their historical context. They are up on archaeological evidence that supports the Flood and other major Bible events. They possess knowledge but no experience with Jesus for themselves.
We have elevated knowledge in this country to almost a god-like status. Knowledge won’t save you! It can assist you, but knowledge apart from a relationship with God is empty and dead. The religious leaders were satisfied with a knowledge about Him to the point where they didn’t feel a need to meet Him for themselves.
I don’t care if you can sing all the words to the B-I-B-L-E and “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man and a Wee Little Man Was He,” I don’t care if you can quote the books of the Bible, name the major and minor prophets and recite the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer, if you haven’t had a personal encounter with Jesus you are living a shell of an existence and are lost in sin, are bound for Hell, and are deceived if you think otherwise.
The Innkeeper, well, he could claim ignorance. He hadn’t studied the Scriptures like the religious leaders. Herod, well, he could also claim ignorance as he wasn’t even completely Jewish. He hadn’t grown up steeped in the Scriptures as had these leaders he had consulted. The religious leaders were the ones who should have run ahead of the Wisemen to bow in front of the baby-King.
They didn’t oppose Jesus as Herod did. They just ignored Him. How many millions of people today live in this category? Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection make no difference to them. They don’t care a Savior was born because they don’t see themselves as sinners.
Romans 3:23 hasn’t changed. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Some people just have a hard time admitting stuff. They have a hard time telling the truth. They have a hard time admitting they need counseling. They have a hard time admitting they are angry or weak or stingy. They have a hard time admitting they need to see a doctor. They have a hard time admitting they are struggling. Now we’re back to self-preservation. We want everyone to think we are perfect. News flash. You’re not. You and I are a hot mess! Yep. I said it. You and I were all born sinners, and we are sitting in a mess of our own sin that will separate us from God forever unless we admit what is true and accept what has been given, the grace of God, born in a manger who took on our mess at the cross and overcame it as He was raised from the dead.
On December 12th, my sister posted this on her Facebook status: Just witnessed the most heart-warming exchange between a parent and child I have seen in a while. As I dropped my kids off at school I saw a military dad drop off his daughter. As she was walking into the school she fell into a mulchy area. I saw her dad run to her. Although she didn’t seem seriously hurt, she had gotten dirt/mulch all on her hands and all down her legs because she had on a dress and the ground was wet due to rain. She was upset and tried to brush the dirt and mulch off, but it wouldn’t come off due to the dampness. The dad was wearing his uniform. He stuck out his arms and had her wipe the mess off onto his uniform to get the mess off of her. They hugged and she skipped into the school. What a great dad! It’s a big deal in the military to have your uniform in top shape and he was willing to get his dirty for his little girl. It showed how much he cared for his daughter, and it warmed my heart.
Today is not a day to be indifferent to Jesus. Today is not a day to say, “I’ll think about it later.” Today is not a day to be consumed by busyness. That “to do” list for later today, put it out of your mind. Christ is speaking. Today is a day to consider who is running your life and why it better not be you. Jesus has come to us with His arms wide open. He is offering for us to wipe our filth onto His perfect righteousness so that our hearts, like the little military daughter, can be free. Admit you need Him.
You’ll be offered some gifts this Christmas season. Some you won’t be able to use. Some you might forget about. Some you might re-gift to someone else. But I promise the gifts of salvation and healing that Jesus offers will meet your deepest need, will never malfunction and will carry you from this life into the one to come.