Why was there “no room in the inn”* for heavily pregnant Mary? Was Bethlehem so crowded with people returning to their family town to register for the Roman census that even a king would have found it difficult to find a room with a bed? Or had people been gossiping about Mary, the young woman who had been pregnant longer than she had been married? And tattling about Joseph her husband who had claimed that he was not the father of Mary’s baby? Every society has its ‘untouchables’. Who would risk the criticism that would be dumped on them for associating with such immoral parents and their illegitimate child?
We can’t be sure why there was no room but it was a pattern of things to come for Jesus. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”* From the moment (about 30 years later) when he began to reveal who he really was, Jesus was not welcome. Yes, he had a small group of loyal followers and many were intrigued by him, but in the end most left him out in the cold.
“From his first breath – with only an animal’s feeding trough for a bed – to his last breath – naked and disgraced, in agony on a Roman cross – the Son of God knew what it was to become very, very poor.”†
Paul the apostle says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”* Has Jesus Christ (by his loving self-sacrifice) made you rich? Rich by freely forgiving all that is wrong in your life? Rich by inviting you to belong to his family? Rich by giving you a solid hope for the future? Rich in the comfort of your home and the abundance of your food?
Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians why they are being made rich in Christ: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.”*
Wishing you a happy and generous Christmas
* Bible verses from Luke 2:7, John 1:11, 1 Corinthians 8:9 9:11
† from a new book for Advent by Christopher Ash ‘Repeat the Sounding Joy’, p91