Luke 2:4-7 – “Now Joseph went up to Judea, to the city called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary…6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
When you picture the Christmas story, it’s easy to think of Mary and Joseph rushing into Bethlehem and finding the Holiday Inn was booked. Mary was about to give birth, so they had to then resort to a stable full of animals for a little bit of shelter and a place to lay Jesus. The likely truth of the story is that Mary and Joseph were at the home of one of Joseph’s relatives. The inn spoken of, kataluma, refers to the guest room of the house already being taken by another set of relatives also likely there for the census. Joseph and Mary would have to set up in the lower level of the home, which in ancient times was also the place you brought your cattle in for the night so that they wouldn’t be stolen.
For Luke to tell us there was no room for them in the guest room is perhaps alluding to something else we don’t often associate with the Christmas story. Joseph’s family was accommodating but perhaps not thrilled with the fact Mary had obviously become pregnant out of wedlock. I mean wouldn’t you give up the guest room for a pregnant woman giving birth? You’re going to keep her with the animals?!
Is there not something in our nature that tends to treat people differently when we feel they’ve lived sinfully or shamefully? We may be accommodating but we can certainly feel justified to avoid going out of our way to sacrifice any of our own comforts.
Maybe another question to consider is how willing are we to follow Jesus when those closest to us cannot understand our obedience and may not act the same around us anymore?
Heavenly Father, I pray for boldness to follow Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit no matter what the cost. I pray for compassion for those I perceive as living in sin to still love them with your self-sacrificial love. I pray it in Jesus’ name. Amen.