Tuesday, December 7, 2021

        A “No Vacancy” sign can send shivers up the spine of anyone who is in desperate need for a place to spend the night.  I can recall making a long, late-night and early-morning trip of the east coast following a spring training trip to Florida because there was no hotel space to be found along the Interstate 95 corridor.  Much has been made of the lack of space for Mary and Joseph on the night that Jesus was born.  Luke included this detail in his Christmas story.  We read, “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 available for them” (Luke 2:7).  We feel sympathy, pity and compassion for Mary and Joseph as we commiserate with them.  It had to be unsettling to be at the moment of childbirth only to discover there was no place for the child to be born.
            You will note, however, that there is no mention of an innkeeper in Luke’s gospel.  He’s not a real figure in the Christmas story.  Many Christmas pageants and plays have routinely cast someone in that role but Luke did not.  We cannot assume that inns and places of lodging in the first century in the Middle East were anything like what we would find today when looking for a place to stay.  There were no Hampton Inns or Holiday Inns.  Expedia and Priceline were unimaginable to anyone in Bethlehem.  So, we have to be careful not to create an image of an innkeeper who, at first, turned away the holy family but finally, in a magnanimous moment, offered them a stable and manger. The real vacancy that we want to see is a place in our hearts for Jesus.  We want to offer Him the throne of our lives, hearts and minds.  More than a temporary room, Jesus came to indwell and inhabit the lives of all who turn to Him in love, faith and trust. 
            Is there a vacancy for Jesus in your life?  In this busy rush to Christmas and the end of yet another year, is there time for Christ?  Will you carve out a place where you can entertain and enjoy Jesus while celebrating His coming?  It would be quite a travesty to walk through this Christmas season yet never enjoy the reason for the season.  Take your Bible today and read the Christmas story in Luke 2.  Consider the moments and personalities that God providentially brought together for one magnificent moment in Bethlehem.  The birth of Jesus forever divided history into two periods—the time before Jesus’ birth and the time following His birth.  If you are up for a real challenge, read the first chapter of Matthew and see how God was at work through the genealogy of Jesus to bring forth His Son in the fullness of time at the right place and at the right moment.  Across forty-two generations from Abraham to Jesus, God worked perfectly and faithfully to bring His Son into the world.
            Matthew wrote, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:22-23).  Simply amazing to consider all that God did across hundreds and hundreds of years and countless moments in history.  And these amazing deeds were performed so that Christ could enter us and be born in us and reign in us forever.  All we can say is what Paul once exclaimed, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).  Have a great Tuesday!

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