Monday, November 30, 2009

No Room

Although I have heard and read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth dozens of times, there is a certain piece of the story that never ceases to amaze me. Just try to imagine for a moment what the atmosphere must have been like in Bethlehem on that wonderful, momentous day. We know, from the opening verses of the second chapter of Luke (which is also confirmed by historical records), that this particular day was exceptionally busy. For, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, issued an order that every citizen and subject of the empire must journey to their ancestral hometown in order to pay taxes.

Imagine the chaos!

This empire-wide taxation was something that was unprecedented and, therefore, probably somewhat in disarray. There were thousands of people, no doubt, all converging upon the small town of Bethlehem at the same time on this very unusual day. There must have been tremendous confusion in the air as the streets flooded with travelers from far and near. There were so many things going on all at once. Some were trying to figure out where to report to pay their taxes. Others were trying to secure accommodations for their family. Every merchant in town was out peddling his goods trying to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to boost sales. Roman soldiers patrolled the city streets on foot and on horseback trying to keep the peace. There was surely a family reunion on just about every street corner since each person belonged to the same ancestral hometown as nearly everyone else in their entire extended family. This day in Bethlehem was like no other.

But this day was also a unique and extraordinary day for quite a different reason. For while everyone tended to their own affairs in the bustling streets of Bethlehem, prophecy was being fulfilled in their very midst. The fullness of time was come (Gal. 4:4). Micah predicted this day would arrive when he wrote, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Isaiah, too, foresaw this very day when he penned the words, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This day would change the course of human history. This day would forever split time into two eras, B.C. and A.D. This day would introduce in an unparalleled way the One who is the King, Savior, Messiah, Deliverer and Redeemer of the world.

One would expect that the town officials would roll out the red carpet. One would think that Mary and Joseph would be greeted with a ticker-tape parade. Surely the crowds would part in reverence to the solemn carpenter and his fatigued, expecting wife as they prepared to present the world with the greatest gift of all time. Amazingly, however, quite the opposite was true. Mary and Joseph wearily trod though the gates of Bethlehem without celebration and, virtually, without notice. Even though what was about to take place in the lives of this couple would proverbially turn the world upside down, at that moment they were merely two more faces in the crowd. No one seemed to care that Jesus was about to enter into the world. The collective attitude of those present in Bethlehem on this day is encapsulated by the Gospel writer, Luke, with the words, “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

No room in the inn? No room for Jesus? How could this be? How is it possible that an entire city of people (and with the exception of a few shepherds and wise men, the entire world) could be completely oblivious that Emmanuel (God with us) was about to break onto the scene? The answer is rather obvious. People were so busy running around taking care of their own business believing, as people tend to do, that their agenda is more important than anything else going on around them. There was no room for Jesus in the inn on that holy night because no one had room for Jesus in their hearts and in their lives.

The collective mindset is really not much different today. Most people simply don’t have room for Jesus. They are too busy with business, careers, education, interests, hobbies and countless other pursuits and have no room available for God in their lives. In our nation alone, multiplied thousands of people have no room in their lives to go to church even one time a week. Humanity hasn’t learned much in the past two thousand years since the birth of Christ.

Sadly, even we Christians frequently declare with our attitudes, actions and with the way we manage our precious time that we have no room for Jesus in our lives. At least we often do not put God in the place of prominence that He deserves. We repeatedly busy ourselves with the many cares of life to the extent that our prayer life and overall commitment suffers. We rightly put great effort into being successful, but it is often at the expense of neglecting the aspect of our life that should be the highest priority, our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Therefore, I propose that beginning with this holiday season we make room for Jesus in our hearts and in our lives like never before. Let us put away all excuses and leave the failures of the past far behinds us. Starting right now, let us commit the very best of our time and energy to our private devotion to God and to working publicly for His kingdom. Make room for Jesus in your life today and every day.

1 comment:

Kara Ketter said...

I followed your link on Facebook to this blog, and I'm glad I did! What an inspiring message this was! To remember how they had "no room" for this family on the day of Jesus' birth makes me feel incredulous, yet I, personally, fail to "make room" for Jesus in my own life, just like so many others do. We get bogged down with our own self-centered, earthly needs that we forget what it's all about and whose glory we should be seeking. This connection is so relevant to our lives now, and such an important message to share. Inspiring! Thank you!