Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“No Room in the Inn”

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David., he went there to register with Mary , who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 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 for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7
Why was it that Jesus had to be born in a manger inside of a smelly old barn? Was it that there were no rooms in the inn? No, the inn had plenty of rooms, the problem was that all the rooms were already filled. Although the inn owner had lots of capacity to accommodate the birth of the baby Jesus, He had filled his inn with less important people and had no place left to entertain the King of all creation. He was so preoccupied with making a living and accommodating his lesser guests that he failed to recognize the life changing opportunity that was before him.
Before we get too judgmental of the inn owner, we must take a look at ourselves. How much room have we made in our own lives to accommodate Jesus? As Christians we talk about seeking God and wanting God to fill us, but how much room have we actually made for Him to do so? We spend our time and energy entertaining ourselves with all the lesser lovers that this world has to give. Counterfeits, like money, pleasure, and recognition seem to promise satisfaction but leave us with little inner peace and, even worse, leave us no room to entertain the Prince of Peace himself, Jesus Christ.
In order to have room for Jesus in our lives we must empty our “inn” of our lesser guests. There was nothing wrong with the other guests in the inn on that first Christmas eve, but when they were occupying the room where Jesus was meant to be, they should have been asked to leave. Likewise, there may be nothing wrong or sinful about many of the things we spend our time, money and energy doing, but if they are occupying the space where Jesus belongs, they also need to go.
The Bible tells a story of a woman who was in desperate need. Her husband had died and the creditors were coming to take her sons as slaves as payment for her debt. In her desperation she cries to the prophet of God for help. In response, the prophet asks her what she has in her house. She replies that she has nothing except a little bit of oil. The prophet then tells her to go and barrow as many empty pots as she can find and then pour the little bit of oil she has left into the empty pots that she has collected. Once the woman collects a sizable amount of empty pots, she does as the prophet tells her and begins pouring her little bit of oil into the large empty pots she has gathered. Vessel after vessel is filled to capacity until there are no more empty vessels left, at which time the oil from the widows small pots stops flowing. She sells the oil to pay her debt, saving her sons from slavery, and then they live on the remainder of the money received. (2 Kings 4:1-7)
What does this story have to do with having "no room in our inn" for Jesus? Well we discover in this story that the amount of emptiness that the widow woman collected, determined the amount of oil that she was able to receive. If she would have collected even more empty pots, she would have been able to received even more oil to satisfy her need. Likewise, the more empty we are, the more room we have for Jesus in our lives. The more full we are with other things, the less capacity we will have for Him. If we are to truly pursue Jesus, it is not enough just to say we are seeking Him, yet like the inn keeper make no room for Him. This emptiness is what Jesus was talking about when He said in Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” Those who are "poor in spirit" recognize their empty condition without God and know that only Jesus can satisfy the void in them. If we desire a life that is filled with meaning and purpose beyond the ordinary, then we must learn to empty ourselves and like the "wise men" from the east, become hungry and passionate about "seeking Him.” Our emptiness creates the environment needed for a life changing, problem solving encounter with the King of Glory, just as the widow woman had. Being too busy and preoccupied, the inn keeper made no room for Jesus to be born in his inn. And because he made no room for Jesus, he missed his opportunity for a life changing moment with "Emmanuel" the God with us. He missed his opportunity to worship with the other seekers who came that night to bow before the new born King. What about you, have you made room in your "inn" for Jesus this Christmas? It's not too late.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Matt 5:6

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