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Galatians 4:4 Lindsay, December 3, 2011 Pr. Ruben Dario Sanchez

And 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 2:7 KJV).

The scene portrayed in Luke 2:7 is so familiar that it has become unmistakable. We call it a representation of the birth of Christ, Either with statuary Or in a painting Or sometimes with actors portraying Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Usually the setting is quite pastoral with Mary and Joseph watching as Jesus sleeps in the clean wooden feedingtrough. Sometimes there is a glowing light emanating from baby Jesus. The straw is fresh Overhead the stars twinkle in the sky

Nearby the cattle and the sheep rest contentedly and the faithful donkey (theres almost always a donkey) watches the happy parents. And very often the shepherds and the Wise Men bow before the Babe in the manger. It is a sweet and beautiful scene. But the real problem lies in the fact that this peaceful scene bears little connection to what really happened that night in Bethlehem. It wasnt very peaceful It couldnt have been as clean Nothing would have been as beautiful as we make it appear And there is no reason to believe that the shepherds and the Wise Men ever saw Jesus at the same time. But the major problem rests in one fact: The Son of God from heaven comes to earth and is born in a stable because there was no room in the inn.

We hear this so often that we take it for granted, but it does not seem right. To help us with the fact of Jesus birth, lets think together about three questions: 1) Whats wrong with this picture? 2) Why does God allow it? 3)What do we learn from it? From our point of view, Jesus should not have been born in a stablebut he was. Surely this was not an accidentbut a message from God to our hearts. 1) WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? The answer is simple: Jesus doesnt belong there Hes the Son of God from heaven... He doesnt deserve to be treated like a vagabond. He deserves the best the world has to offer. He comes from heaven to earth and ends up in a stable? How can that be? God could have done better. Think about it for a moment.

Suppose we had all power and could choose the time and place and manner of our sons birth. Would we choose to have him born outside, in a stable? That doesnt make any sense. Whats going on here? Why is this happening? Why is there no room in the inn? Lets begin with Bethlehem. If you visit Bethlehem today, youll find that it is a large, Arab town located 8 miles south of Jerusalem. You reach Bethlehem by driving down a wide paved road from Jerusalem. The situation is very tense nowadays, and although it would not be advisable to walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, you could do it easily in an hour or two. In Jesus day, Bethlehem was a tiny Jewish town A small village One of the least important towns in all of Judah.

A few shepherds lived there, some farmers, a few merchants, and that was about it. It was a small Jewish village made famous only because it was King Davids hometown. Emperor Caesar Augustus prompted by God decreed that a census be taken, so that taxes could be collected throughout the Empire. The census required that all Jewish males go back to their ancestral hometowns to register. Since Joseph was descended from David, he had to return to Bethlehem. It happened that Mary was in her final stages of pregnancy when they arrived in Bethlehem. I say happened because God arranged everything so That the emperor issued the decree at just the right moment And in just the right way So that at just the right time Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem

So that they were exactly where the prophet Micah said they would be when Jesus was born (Micah 5:2). It all seemed to just happen, but what seemed to be by chance, was actually the hand of God moving through history to accomplish his purposes. If God ordains it, he will make a way. Part of our problem in understanding this story revolves around the word inn. We are so immersed in American culture that we read the text this way: There was no room for them at the Bethlehem Holiday Inn. Or They couldnt find a room at the Greater Jerusalem Ramada Inn. Or the Sheraton. Or the Hilton. We tend to think of A nice building near a freeway exit Three or four stories tall. With a nice parking lot A large lobby A pool and a hot tub Hot showers, cable TV

And data ports on the phones so we can surf the Internet. In those days travel was dirty, difficult and dangerous. Travelers needed safety and security from the robbers that could be found on every highway. An inn was simply a building where you could rest safely during the night. Indoor plumbing was 20 centuries in the future. In order to properly understand what happened, it helps to know that Luke used two different words for inn when he wrote his gospel. One word refers to a small building dedicated to serving travelers. At one end of the building, people tied up their horses and donkeys. For a fee, the innkeeper allowed them to sleep on a rough mattress on the floor. This was the inn Jesus mentioned in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 34). I have traveled on the old road from Jericho to Jerusalem, and our bus stopped at

the Inn of the Good Samaritan, a simple building located at the traditional site of the inn that existed in Jesus day. Luke used a different word for inn in verse 7 that basically means a guest room. This inn would be even smaller and simpler than the one in Luke 10. The animals would be kept in a stable that was often nothing more than a cave in a hillside to keep the animals during the night. It was an inn such as this that had no room for Mary and Joseph and Jesus on that night in Bethlehem. And that brings me back to the major point. From a human point of view, nothing in this picture looks right. Jesus deserved better God could have done better. So why did it happen like this? That leads us to the second question. 2) WHY DOES GOD ALLOW IT? If we believe in the sovereignty of God, then I think we must believe that God did not simply allow his Son to be born in

a stable we must believe that God ordained it. Joseph and Mary were compelled (by the census) to return to Bethlehem. It seems clear that they arrived just a few days before she gave birth to Jesus. The journey itself would have been difficult and dangerous Traveling slowly because of Marys advanced pregnancy. So, they arrived in Bethlehem was turned away at the inn and the baby was born in a stable Outdoors, in the cold With the animals no doubt nearby. They had no privacy No sanitation And very little protection from the elements. Why would God send his Son into the world like this? Charles Spurgeon offers a number of answers to this question. First of all, Christ was born like this to show his humiliation. Would it have been fitting that the man who was to die

naked on the cross should be robed in purple at his birth? he asks. The answer is no. All his life he would be not much more than a peasant. Second, The poor and the outcasts knew Jesus was one of them because of the way he came into the world. Spurgeon says, In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection; a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. Spurgeon notes that the best commanders are those who Have the common touch Who are not afraid to mingle with the soldiers on the front lines Who arent ashamed to get their hands dirty in the trenches of warfare. When soldiers know that their commander has walked where they walk, They will follow him to the ends of the earth.


The poor of the earth know that in Jesus, they have a friend who cares about them. Third, he was born like this in order that the humble might feel invited to come to him. The very manner of his birthwas an invitation to the rejected, the abused, the mistreated, the forgotten, the overlooked, to come to him for salvation. Of him it was said He eat and drink with publicans and sinners; this man receive sinners and eat with them. Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinners friend. I find this an inspiring thought. The fact that there was no room in the inn turns out to be much more than an incidental detail. Indeed, it is central to who Jesus is. Is there a hint here of his upcoming death? I believe there is. Turned away from the inn and resting in a feeding-trough, he was already bearing the only cross a baby can bear

extreme poverty and the contempt and indifference of mankind. In the words of Francis of Assisi, For our sakes he was born a stranger in an open stable; he lived without a place of his own wherein to lay his head, subsisting by the charity of good people; and he died naked on a cross in the close embrace of holy poverty. This baby lying forgotten in an exposed stable, resting in a feeding-trough, is Gods appointed sign to us all. This is a true Incarnation. God has come to the world in a most unlikely way. This is what Philippians 2:7 means when it says that he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Nothing about the baby Jesus appeared supernatural. There were no halos No angels visible And no choirs singing. If we had been there, and if we had no other information

We would have concluded that this was just a baby born to a poor young couple. Nothing about the outward circumstances pointed to God. Yet all of it every part of it every single, solitary, random detail was planned by the Father before the foundation of the world. To the unseeing eye, nothing looks less like God To those who understand, Gods fingerprints are everywhere. 3) WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THIS? If we stand back and consider this one aspect of the Christmas story, some amazing truths emerge. We learn something about God Something about the world. Something about Jesus And something about his followers. First, we learn that God uses adverse circumstances that make no sense at the time in order to accomplish his purposes in the future.

At first glance the fact that there was no room at the inn seems like an insignificant detail in the larger picture. But it was no small detail to Mary and Joseph. Being turned away at the very moment when the baby was coming must have been devastating. Giving birth in a stable no doubt tested their faith to the very limit. Certainly it would not have made sense at the time. Mary and Joseph no matter how devout they were simply could not have foreseen how this negative turn of events would turn about to be part of Gods plan to bring his Son to the world. They might have believed it, but they would not have seen it in advance. Life is like that we dont know what is coming around the corner and many things we endure make no sense at all. Sometimes they dont make sense for years to come.

And sometimes they never make sense to us. Last week we heard about a family were all the family got cancer. Or not long ago the family traveling to Oregon that lost 3 children in an accident In moments like this, rather than try to explain the mysterious ways of God Or try to answer unanswerable questions; we do better to rest on what we know about God That He is good and just and merciful, that his ways are not our ways, That he makes no mistakes And he does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3). I take great comfort in the fact that our God knows what he is doing And he uses everything that happens to us to accomplish his purposes in us and through us and for us. Nothing is wasted. That was true for Mary and Joseph. Nothing is wasted not even being turned away because there was no room in the inn.

Second, we learn also that the world had no room for Christ, and it has no room for Christ now. John 1:11 puts it very plainly: He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Jesus came to his own people And they wouldnt take him in. He came to the people who should have known him best And they wanted nothing to do with him. They should have known better. They knew he was coming God had told them over and over again many times in many ways. They had ample warning. But the rejection of Christ by his own people was a portent of things to come. If Mary and Joseph would come to Lindsay, they would be turned away from the Super 8 Motel. And Mary wouldnt have her baby at Kaweah Delta or Sierra View hospitals. If Jesus were born today, it would happen in a ramshackle tenement building

or in a field in the country or in a remote village. The world that had no room for him has no room for him now. Third, we learn that his humiliation started early and continued to the very end. He was born outside. They wouldnt let Mary and Joseph come inside. During his ministry he told his disciples that Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). He owned nothing but the clothes on his back, and when he was crucified, the soldiers gambled for his robe. When he died, they buried him in a borrowed tomb. The whole story is quite remarkable if we think about it. Its a miracle. But we are worshiping today a man born in an almost dumpster. I know thats an exaggeration, but the point is still true.

Jesus is more than a man hes the Son of Godbut hes not less than fully human either. Our Saviors birth pictured the whole course of his life. He was an outsider in every sense he came from outside this earth he was born outside the inn And he died outside the city walls. Fourth, we learn that his followers share in his fate. We live with him We suffer with him We die with him And we reign with him. What happened to Jesus happens to his followers sooner or later. Luke 2:7 reads because there was no room for them in the inn. Remember, the innkeeper had no idea that the Messiah was about to be born. True enough, there was no room for Jesus, but neither for Mary and Joseph. Even that detail tells a story. They are also outside the inn when Jesus is born.

That too is a pattern for the future. Many years later Jesus challenged his disciples this way: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mark 8:34). And so we come to the very end of the story. What great truth lies behind the simple words of Luke 2:7!!! Even the tiniest details turn out to have enormous significance in the Christmas story. Let me say one final time, the No Vacancy signs were there for our benefit. God could have made a room available. He could have created a hospital or a palace in Bethlehem if he had so desired. The sequence of events that unfoldedthe census, The long journey, no room at the inn, no crib for a bed, The feeding trough The swaddling clothes

All of it was planned by God even though it all appeared to happen by chance. God willed there would be no room in the inn not for the sake of Jesus, but for our sakes, that we might learn who Jesus is and why he came. Because there was no room in the inn, the final call is always individual. The world has no room for Jesus. Will we make room for him in our heart? The story is told of a little boy who was chosen to play the innkeeper in the annual childrens Christmas play at his church. When the night came All the children were in their places Nervously waiting for the play to begin. The girls were dressed as angels The boys as shepherds and Wise Men. While the little girls talked and giggled The boys poked each other with their shepherds staffs.

The little boy chosen to play the innkeeper had only one line. When Joseph knocked on the door, he was to open it and tell them there was no room in the inn. As the play began, parents and grandparents wondered how their children would do that night. Everything proceeded as planned At last the big moment came for the innkeeper. Joseph knocked on the door. The young boy opened it and saw Joseph and the very pregnant young girl. Something about the sight of Mary touched his heart and he blurted out the show-stopping lines, There is no room left in the inn but you can share my room. Some people thought the Christmas play had been ruined. Others thought it was the best one ever.


The little boy told the frustrated director later: I just couldnt send Jesus away. I had to find a place for Him. There was no room for Jesus that night in Bethlehem. Will you make room for him in your heart this year? When Spurgeon preached on this text, he made this appeal to his audience: Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinners friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Savior, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. Here is good news for the worst of sinners.


Though the whole world may turn away, we can open our hearts and let him in. May God grant to each of us faith to believe and an open heart to say, Yes, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for you. Amen.