“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
Years ago in a little community near Hodgenville, Kentucky, a man returning from a city trip met a neighbor who asked if anything was happening in the outside world. The friend told him of the war in Europe and the latest news in Washington and then inquired if anything had happened at home. “Not a thing,” the old man said, “Except last night Mrs. Lincoln did give birth to a baby boy. Named him Abraham. But nothing important ever happens around here.”
That’s what many thought the night the Creator of the world was born. Reminds me of that Negro spiritual, “Sweet little Jesus boy, born in a manger, sweet little holy child, didn’t know who He was.” But the Son of God must have a birth place. In that day only three continents were known in the ancient world: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Asia was chosen! But Asia had many countries, one of which was a little country known as the land of promise, Palestine. In Palestine there were three main districts: Judea, Galilee and Samaria; Judea was the chosen one! But again, in Judea, there were many villages, and from them the selected sight was the “little town of Bethlehem,” about 5 miles southwest of Jerusalem. And to make the prediction more accurate, it was Bethlehem (house of bread) in the land of Judea (Ephrathah [fruitful], Micah 5:2). This had to be made clear for there was another Bethlehem, about 7 miles northwest of Nazareth in the land of Zebulan (Joshua 19:15).
Bethlehem was the burial place of Rachel; It was the home of Boaz, Ruth, Obed and Jesse (Ruth 4:11-17; I Samuel 16:18); and it was the birthplace of David (I Samuel 17:12). Here he was anointed king, and thus Bethlehem was called “The City of David.” It was here where God became man only to find that the world He had created had no room for Him. The innkeeper, though only doing his job, said “no room!” In those days inns were for common people while rich people stayed with friends. Today it is the other way around. The very first spurning of the Savior in Scripture found Him in an unpretentious, unassuming stable, but this was not the only place where no room would be made for the Son of God.
King Herod had no room for baby Jesus either. He was very troubled when the wisemen arrived in Jerusalem requesting the presence of He who had been born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-16). Fearing the loss of his kingdom, he spared no mercy in protecting his throne. King Herod had descended from the lineage of Esau and hated the Jews because Jacob had deceitfully taken the inheritance away from Esau. Upon finding the approximate location of the Christ child this wicked king ordered the death of all baby boys less than two years of age. We might ask, “How could one do such a thing?” He must have been without conscience for he had killed at least three of his sons and some of his wives for plotting against him. The word was out, “Don’t marry King Herod!” Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus stated, “It was better to be Herod’s sow than his son for his sow had a better chance of surviving in a Jewish community!” All of this senseless killing because there was no room for Jesus.
Even the chief priests and scribes, the religious leaders of the day, had no room for Jesus. Though they told the wisemen and King Herod where Jesus would be born, we have no record that they ever bothered to travel the six short miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see this prophesied Child and investigate the truth they had been teaching for years (Matthew 2:4-6). They knew the content of Scripture but they did not know the Christ of Scripture. They knew about Him but did not care to know Him. Not even the spiritual chiefs of the day had room for Jesus.
A few years have passed now, and we see that even the home town where Jesus had grown up, Nazareth, had no room for Him (Luke 4:16-21; 28-30). Here Jesus stood in the synagogue and preached with persuasion to the people He knew and loved most, those closest to His heart. They had known Him from a child, the son of godly parents, a tradesman like His father, who no doubt had helped many in the community. Do you remember what they did? Filled with wrath, they literally dragged Him out of town with intent to kill Him by hurling Him from a cliff. Some may have been His childhood friends. But, as before and still to come, our Lord’s hour had not yet come. God, again through divine intervention spared His Son from a sovereignly selected site that had no room. Had he been a home town basketball celebrity or Rock superstar there would have been room but not for one whose greatest credit was truth!
As we follow our Lord’s well-marked path His next visit is to Gadara, a small seacoast town located some 6 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Gadara, meaning “walls,” was just that as they also had no room for Jesus. This particular area was riddled with caves filled with demon-possessed people (Matthew 8:28-34). When this rarely roamed region was visited by Jesus, immediately these demoniacs recognized that Satan’s territory was being invaded by a higher power than his. Two of the demon-possessed men, in fear, pleaded to be cast into a herd of nearby swine rather than be tormented (judged) before God’s appointed time. Jesus answered their plea and after the pigs, some 2,000, perished in the sea, the Gentile owners told everyone and the whole city begged Jesus to depart from them. They showed no mercy for the healed demoniacs but rather feared because their “business” had been destroyed. How sad, no room for the One who could meet very need: physical, financial and spiritual.
In one last scene, we see that Jesus found no room in Jerusalem, in that day the religious capital of the world (John 8:48-59). When Jesus taught them truth, the religious leaders accused Him of having a demon, and in anger began to stone Him, but God again intervened and delivered Him safely, for His hour had not yet come and His mission was yet unfulfilled. From this point on we also discover that no room for Jesus could be found by Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, nor His own chosen people, the Jews (John 1:11). So they all plotted together and were finally prosperous in their pursuit, they killed the Son of God!
It hardly seems true, but it is. Room was finally found for Jesus. Did the “little town of Bethlehem,” King Herod, Nazareth, Gadara, or Jerusalem and the religious leaders of the day finally find room for Jesus? Did they change their minds? NO! The only place that the entire world had room for Jesus was a short distance outside the Damascus Gate, a spot the Scriptures call Calvary (Luke 23:33); a location also called “Golgotha” or “skull” (Mark 15:22; Matthew 27:33). The early church father, Jerome, theorized that this place received its name from the skulls of many executed criminals, their bones exposed to remind people of the hideousness of this horrifying place; others say that this hill called Calvary represented the shape of a skull. Some say that it was visible from a public travel way which would have brought more humiliation to those who were despicably nailed to a cross.
Of all the beautiful places created by the Savior Himself, only here in this repulsive “room” was there accommodation for Jesus. One room! There, suspended between his own creations, heaven and earth, they nailed Him to a cross between two criminals. Finally, in God’s divine providence, the Savior’s hour had finally come. In that appointed hour in history (Galatians 4:4-5), the little baby, now become Savior, cried again (Matthew 27:46), darkness came, the earth shook, graves were opened, fear gripped the oppressors, and Jesus breathed his last breath.
But praise the Lord, it was not God’s will for His Son to remain where men had made room for Him! There was still more for the Son of God to do! On the third day after His burial, God raised Him up from the grave, a sign of victory over death and sin conquered! What good would be a virgin born Babe if He could not save from sin? But there is more to the story.
After our Lord’s return to heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, not only is He interceding for us (Romans 8:34), but He is also preparing a “room” for us! “In My Father’s house are many mansions (rooms), if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). The Son of God suffered NO ROOM that there might be MANY ROOMS! “No room – one room – many rooms!” Through forgiveness of our sins and confession of faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, never will we hear the words, “No room!” Never! Never! Never!
The question we must face is not, “Does Jesus have room for us, but do we have room for Jesus?”
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
when Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
for Thy holy nativity.
The foxes found rest and the birds their nest
in the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
in the desert of Galilee.
Thou camest, O Lord, with the Living Word
that should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of throne,
they bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee.
There’s room at the cross for you,
there’s room at the cross for you;
Tho’ millions have come, there’s still room for one –
Yes, there’s room at the cross for you.
For those who are called to proclaim – we must!
For those who are lost – we pray they trust!
For every believer – follow no matter the cost!
–Maynard H. Belt