Is There Room in Your Heart for Him?
What a special time of the year!
Thanksgiving and Christmas are more precious to me
than any other holidays, and they so beautifully
go hand in hand.
More and more, I realize the importance
of being grateful for the true essence of
Christmas — that God became flesh. He came
as a baby, humbling himself to a manger and,
one day, to Calvary’s tree for you and me. Oh,
I wonder if we can really understand the
emotion in heaven and the joy on earth as
Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem
just prior to the birth of Christ.
An historic journey
Can you see them as they wearily make
their way through the narrow streets of
Bethlehem? Mary, tired from the long journey, sits
on the little donkey as Joseph leads it along.
Their journey is almost over, and none too
soon. They stop in front of one of the inns in
Bethlehem. With a tender word, Joseph
comforts his wife and then strides quickly toward
the inn door.
Have you ever wondered what Mary was
thinking as Joseph knocked at the innkeeper’s
door? Perhaps she was remembering what her
cousin Elizabeth had said to her some time
before. Blessed art thou among women, and
blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence
is this to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the
voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed is she that believed: for there
shall be a performance
[fulfillment] of those
things which were told her from the Lord
Mary knew how blessed she was for, out
of all the women in the world, God had
chosen her to give the world this baby. This
wasn’t Joseph’s baby; He was the Son of God,
produced by the Holy Spirit, waiting to be
born in Bethlehem (see Luke 1:35 and
Mary knew about the promise that
foretold: 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
Mary’s mind didn’t dare leap ahead to
contemplate the rest of those words. It was
enough for her to know that she was, at this
very moment, in Bethlehem (ancestral home
of King David, Joseph’s forefather) and that
her time to give birth was at hand.
Mary looked at Joseph, footsore and
fatigued from walking alongside the donkey all
the way so that she could ride. She knew how
blessed she was to have this good and just
man as her husband. He had handled the
situation so well. He had shown her nothing but
love and concern. More than once he had told
her, “I know, beloved wife, that this child has
been conceived in a special way. The angel
laid all my fears to rest.”
Joseph had learned of Mary’s pregnancy
after she returned from visiting Elizabeth. For
six months they had marveled at the conversations
they had each had with the angel. It
must have been awesome for them, realizing
that the Holy Ghost had visited Mary and that
the child she carried was a divine original.
“Oh, Joseph,” I can hear Mary saying, “He
is to be called ‘the Son of God.'”
“Yes, Mary,” Joseph responded, “and His
name is to be called JESUS, for He shall save
His people from their sins.”
Did they recall the words of Isaiah? Did
they repeat those names? Behold, a virgin
shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call
his name Immanuel…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 7:14; 9:6).
Perhaps Mary remembered those
conversations as her husband knocked at the
innkeeper’s door. She was so tired. The journey
had been long and hard. But now, at last, they
had arrived in Bethlehem.
For us, today, a journey to Bethlehem is
still not easy. In the hustle and bustle of the
season, there are many things to deter us.
We’ve all heard that we should keep Christ in
Christmas, but let’s be sure that we keep
ourselves in Christmas, as well! If we are not
careful, we can become so busy with Yuletide
activities that we are exhausted before we get
to Bethlehem — and miss the real Christmas
Knock…knock…knock! Joseph knocks at
the innkeeper’s door. A Baby is about to be
born — the most important Baby ever to be
born on this earth. “Let us in…let Him in…out
of the cold and darkness of the night.” But the
Bible tells us there was no room for them in
the inn (Luke 2:7).
No room! Those are heart-rending words.
Would we have said that? Yet, isn’t it being
said every day? We are all innkeepers, with
room for many things, but do we have room
for Him? In our lives — shabby stables that
they are — He may be cradled, but we must
give Him room.
Joseph, the rugged carpenter of Nazareth,
a just man whose faith transcended his
misgivings, enfolded Mary’s helplessness in his
strong arms as he lifted her off the back of the
little donkey. Someone had tapped him on his
sagging shoulders and said, “There is a place,
if your wife won’t mind. I know I can fix it
and make it clean. It will be quiet there…and warm”
Joseph had ministered to Mary’s needs in
that weary pilgrimage to Bethlehem; but his
husbandly duties had not yet ended. Mary in
a stable? The Son of God born in a barn?
How his mind must have reeled. Remember,
he was very human.
Husband, would you like for your wife to
give birth to her firstborn in a stable? What
lowly circumstances! The Lord of all heaven
and earth was about to make His human
presence known in the world — but in a barn? This
was not the birthplace Joseph had imagined
Barns smell, not just of clean hay, but of
animals. Barns are not always sanitary. Oh,
the lovely Nativity scenes that we see at
Christmas do not begin to portray what Joseph
and Mary must have experienced in those
prebirth moments, as they contemplated their plight.
One wishes we could push back the pages
of time and make it different — different,
perhaps, like the school Christmas play I heard about.
One little boy had been asked to play the
role of the innkeeper in the play. His parents,
schoolmates, and teachers were so excited and
pleased for him because he wasn’t quite “normal”
like the other boys and girls. Still, they
wanted to include him in the performance.
Seven little words
His were simple lines. When Joseph knocked
at the door and asked for a room, he, the
innkeeper, would say, “There is no room in the
inn.” Seven words. And that was all.
The big night came. Practice perfomances
had gone well. Then came that moment.
Knock…knock…knock — Joseph knocks at
the inn door. With great emotion and convincing
reality, Joseph presents his case to the
innkeeper. His wife is very pregnant. In fact, the
baby is due any moment. Won’t the innkeeper
please let them in?
The little boy who had rehearsed his lines
so very carefully, listened patiently, and then
said the seven words loud and clear: “There is
no room in the inn.”
Joseph turned, his shoulders sagging. But
before he could leave, the innkeeper opened
the door, thrust his head out, and said, loud
and clear, “Wait…wait! You can have my room.”
It wasn’t in the script. Nor was it in the
script on that first Christmas. And so it was,
that…she brought forth her firstborn son, and
wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid
him in a manger; because there was no room
for them in the inn (Luke 2:6,7).
As we recall this short resume of the most
beautiful story ever given from God, may your
heart be reminded of the importance of
remembering, not just the gifts that are to come,
the families we are to see, and the loved ones
we shall enjoy, but remembering the true
message of Christmas — God’s love for us. And
may we not get so distracted by the many
activities of the holiday season that we never
even reach Bethlehem.
Dr. Van Impe and I are grateful for the
opportunity to share the saving message of
God’s love for the world in these closing days
of time. Thank you for your prayers and support.