Scripture Text: Luke 2:1-14
Are you ready for Christmas? Do you have your Christmas list? Have you checked it twice? Have you gotten your shopping done? Have you scheduled the parties and the family time? Will there be much festivities and partying this Christmas? Most of us usually spend a lot of time, money and energy around Christmas. There is just so much that needs to be done, or so we think. I am sure by the time Christmas is over, there will be a relief that things are back to normal and you can relax until next year. Filling our lives with things to do or things to have is not necessarily only during Christmas. Many of us fill our lives with things, or work, or pleasure, or family, or friends to the point that there is no room for anything else. Someone may spend all his or her time doing this or that, and someone else may spend all his or her time working and staying busy.
At Christmastime, we find ourselves with something unfamiliar to Luke. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, we ascend to the height of materialism by shopping for the perfect gifts. What could be more unlike the message of the gospel than getting caught up in buying our way to happiness? There are the Christmas lists, the decorated trees, the holiday movies, and the numerous parties with family and friends. Add to all that the stress of traveling and entertaining multiple sides of the family. The real Christmas was nothing like the Christmas we typically celebrate. It was a desperate moment that occurred for a desperate reason. The reality of the first Christmas is a sad picture of a homeless mother and child. Busy little Bethlehem had no room for the baby King Jesus. If we were there, would we shockingly say, “Surely we can find some room somewhere!” Can we? Are we so different from those two thousand years ago?
The Humble Birth of Our King
The birth of Jesus was not the spectacular royal occasion that we might read today. If we were to write about the birth of a prince or a king, we might tell a sensational story full of pomp and festivities. That was not God’s plan. Luke described the birth of Jesus as a very humble event. Look at the following verses.
Luke 2:4–5 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
The reason Joseph and Mary traveled from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem was because of a Roman census. It was important for persons to return to their ancestral home for such a census. Joseph and Mary travelled from their hometown of Nazareth to the place of Joseph’s ancestors, Bethlehem. Usually women were not required to go on such trips. Mary could have simply wished to be with Joseph during the time of her delivery. She may have gone with Joseph to avoid the shame and humiliation of people who might have looked down on her for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph, being a just man (Matthew 1:19), may have not wanted to leave his bride to the ridicule and shame of those who would be hostile to her. It could also be that Mary desired to have her son born in David’s city as the prophet Micah wrote. Look at the following prophecy.
Micah 5:2 2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Whatever Mary’s reason, God ordained it. Notice what the prophet, Micah, wrote concerning Bethlehem: you are too little. Bethlehem was not significant, yet from this little town, God brought forth the ruler of Israel, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Luke did not tell us the immediate reason for this, but ultimately he wrote that this was due to God’s providence. God decided to bring forth His Son from the city of David.
No Room for Him in the Inn
So, the birth of our Savior occurred in an insignificant little town with two unnoticeable people. This was not humble enough, though. God made sure that the greatest birth in history happened without human fanfare or an elaborate setting fit for a king. We read a very famous passage about the birth of our Savior. Look at the next few verses.
Luke 2:6–7 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
These are really the only details the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write about the birth of Jesus. Luke wrote that Mary gave birth to Jesus and had to lay Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. The most important person to be born in the history of the world was most likely snuck into town late one night where there was no place for them to stay. Apparently, the only place in town to stay overnight was unavailable. Even if Mary and Joseph were able to stay at this inn, it would not be a Marriott, a Holiday Inn Express, or a Motel 6 where they leave the light on for you. Times were different then. Luke calling it the inn suggests this was a specific, publicly known lodging place for travelers and caravans.
Having no room does not necessarily imply that the innkeeper rejected them. Maybe the town was full of people because of the census. The inn was probably the one lodging place in the town and it was full from all the people staying in Bethlehem at that time. If Joseph had any family in town, their homes were probably already full, too. Either way, there was no place for Joseph and Mary to stay. There was space available, but it was where the animals stayed. There was not even a crib fit for a babe, only a feeding trough for animals, what we call a manger. With no other options, Joseph and Mary stayed in a stable or cave and Mary gave birth to her first-born son. Mary wrapped her baby in “swaddling cloths”, strips of cloth used to keep babies warm and secure and to keep their arms and legs straight. This is how God’s Son, our Savior, was born.
The irony of the most important event in history taking place in a manger should not be overlooked. It reveals how God elevates the lowly and humble and rejects the proud and mighty of this world. The promised King came to His people into the humblest of settings. The descendants of David, the king of Israel, descended to a stable to find a place to lay the head of the King of kings. This is how God used earth’s lowest to bring salvation to us all. Notice how the prophet Isaiah foretold His coming.
Isaiah 53:2–3 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
God only begotten Son, a lowly baby born in stable and laid in a feeding trough, was a man of sorrows, with no majesty and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was rejected and despised by those He came to save. Christmas is a time for celebration. The weary world rejoices because a Savior is born. Heaven and nature sing because God’s plan to save the human race was put into motion. Yet there is another side to Christmas that we should not forget. By being born as one of us, Jesus left the glories of heaven to humble Himself as a lowly baby born in a dirty stable. He made Himself vulnerable to pain, rejection and loneliness. He was mocked by people who should have been on their knees worshiping Him. He was beaten by those who would have trembled in fear if they knew who He really was. He was crucified by people who would not make room for Him. Yet still, He came to save us.
Heavenly Worship for the Humble King
Even in this scene of humble birth, there was much worship. Not all people rejected Jesus. Some recognized the awesome reality of heaven and earth’s new born King and made room for Him. There was much celebration in the midst of these humble beginnings. Look at the following verses.
Luke 2:10-11, 13-14 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”…13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased
There was good news of great joy! On that first Christmas morning, our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born. On that first Christmas morning, the angel announced good news of great joy for everyone and the heavenly host praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth.” The humble, baby Jesus was then surrounded by shepherds praising God and wise men giving expensive gifts. These people made room for the new born King. These people recognized who it was laying in that manger and responded with worship. When life is not what we expect, or things do not go according to our plans, can we still worship the King? Is there room for Him in our lives?
Is There Room for the King?
If you really look at your life, is there room for Christ? Are you going about your life being busy and moving from one thing to the next where there is no room for Jesus? For me personally, I fill my life with television or church work that leaves little time for my Savior. You might say, “I thought church work was about Christ.” It can be, and it can also be a distraction. It can be something that is done just for the sake of doing it. We can all get so busy doing things that leave little room for our Savior. For instance, do you struggle to find time or the desire to read the Bible? Do you struggle to find time or the desire to pray? Do you struggle to find time or the desire to meet with God’s church? If so, there is little room for Jesus in your life! These are indications that life is too busy or too full of other things that leaves little room for God.
Therefore, schedule time to read the Bible. God has given us His Word and He wants us to read it. It can be a bit overwhelming to read the Bible, so start small. Read a little each day. Make room for God’s Word. Set aside time to pray, whether it is first thing in the morning, during lunch time, right before going to bed, or in the car on the way to or from work. Prayer is essential for our spiritual growth, therefore, make room for prayer. Faithfully gather with your church family. God created us to be social beings and we all need encouragement and accountability. Make room for the church. Life can be full of distractions, so let go of them and focus on Jesus. See Him as the most beautiful One in the universe and treasure Him above all else. We have to intentionally set aside time to spend with God. Turn off the television or the computer and spend time with Jesus.
There are other ways to fill up your life. Are you full of pride, stubbornness, self-esteem, or self-reliance? Do you think you can make it through life just fine on your own? You are deceived and have no room for a Savior. Turn to Christ and lean on Him. Do you have pain, bitterness, unforgiveness, anxiety, worry, or trouble that consumes your life? If so, there is little room for Jesus! Jesus said to cast your cares upon Him. He is our refuge. He is our strength. Do you have guilt or shame? Those, too, can fill your life where you have no room for the Savior. Jesus came to provide salvation for the world, and He wants to save you. When you agree with God that you are a sinner, and you repent of your sin, and confess Jesus as Lord, you can let that guilt and shame go. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Therefore, fill your life with Jesus. Let go of whatever else fills your life and make it all about Jesus.
Christmas can be a joyous time, but it can be a stressful time, too. This Christmas, “Let every heart prepare him room.” In the midst of your busy schedules this Christmas and your busy life, is there room for the Savior? What needs to change if there is not? God made room for you in giving this child who is the King of kings and the One who brings salvation to all. This Christmas, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth — God’s gift to us — let us remember how much that gift cost. Let your hearts make Him room and enthrone Him. His promise to you is that He will make a room for you that is fit for a king where you will spend all eternity with Him. That is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.