So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Luke 2:3-7, HCSB 

06-30-13 © Chiyacat, courtesy of iStockphoto

Keep Christ in Christmas. Remember the Reason for the Season.

These slogans in Christian circles remind us that Christmas is supposed to be about the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The reason such jingles resonate so often at Christmas is because most people ignore the One for whom the holiday originated. This shouldn’t surprise us because it was the same on the day that Jesus came.

There were many reasons people didn’t acknowledge the Messiah’s arrival. Let’s just consider why Joseph and Mary had no place to stay.

  • A pragmatic observer might blame it on logistics.

The Roman government had ordered a census to raise taxes. To avoid missing anyone, they required the Judeans to travel to their ancestral homes to register. The hometown of David was Bethlehem, still a small village one thousand years after David lived. There weren’t enough inns for the out-of-towners.

  • But such mentality violated Eastern custom, if not rabbinic law.

The Judeans had perfected the art of hospitality during the various festivals in Jerusalem. The pilgrimages brought in millions to the capital city, which normally housed a fraction of that size. They didn’t have a Motel 6. These tourists bunked with citizens who opened their homes to strangers.

The Pharisees didn’t want any man to say: “I have not found a bed in Jerusalem to lie in.”[1] Thus, many homeowners surrendered their own beds to allow the less fortunate to stay in a place of honor.

And Bethlehem was much smaller than Jerusalem. That’s why there weren’t enough inns for the deluge of people flooding in. Thus, the only solution was for homeowners to share their living quarters.

  • For some reason, the Bethlehemites lacked hospitality.

Maybe they felt they had sacrificed enough. Maybe they believed someone else should shoulder the burden. After all, they were already filled to the brim with weary strangers.

  • Perhaps, they catered to the more distinguished guests.

After all, the people flocking to Bethlehem were David’s descendants; one of them could’ve been the rightful king. Some were wealthier than others. Some, like Mary and Joseph, were very poor. There was no room left to accommodate the less regal peasants.

  • A pregnant teen was nothing more than an afterthought.

Mary and Joseph were left out with the animals – the horses and the mules ridden by the other guests. They bedded with cows, goats, sheep, and chickens.

  • Isn’t that how we sometimes treat Jesus, too?

He’s the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins, but we just don’t have the time or the energy to give Him what He deserves.

  • It’s just logistics.

We’ve got too much work or shopping or football or whatever. We have no room or time for Him at Christmas … or ever.

We know we should be thankful to Christ for our redemption, but we love the shopping, the games, the parties, the decorations, the jingles, etc. Worship of Him just slips our mind because we’re too busy.

This Christmas, make room for Jesus – not excuses.

Take time to remember:

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29, NKJV

What reasons have you given for not making room for Jesus?

[1] Hastings, Bib. Dic. “Guest-Chamber and Inn,” quoted by W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, nda), 524.