Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are the primary characters in the grand story of Christmas. Without them, there would be no Christmas story.
In a movie, play, or television series, there are the main actors and the supporting cast. Those who play supporting roles are not as widely recognized, but often are crucial to the story as a whole.
As I talked to the Lord about what I should offer for the month of December, the Holy Spirit reminded me that He used many people to bring the story of Christmas to life. When I went to Luke chapter 2, I discovered that, indeed, there are 4 people or groups of people without whom the Christmas story might not have happened.
Today, we turn our gaze to Luke 2:6 – 7 (NIV). Although an innkeeper is not mentioned specifically in this verse, the concept of an inn necessitates an innkeeper, so let’s see what we can discover about this supporting cast member in the Christmas story.
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.
As I researched the inns of Jesus’ day, I discovered that often they were not exactly what we might think. The inns of that day could have consisted of a structure with rooms where travelers lodged for the night. However, it was just as likely that it was nothing more than an open, level field near a water source where shepherds or travelers could pitch a tent for the night and water their animals.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem, a small hamlet just a few miles from Jerusalem, would have been teeming with people seeking to do the very same thing Joseph had come to town to do…..register for the census. The man who owned the ‘inn’ or field where Joseph and Mary ultimately stopped would have had his hands full. Regardless of whether the inn was a structure or a field, the innkeeper would have been busy making sure that every feed trough was filled with water and straw for the animals. He was likely a prominent man in Bethlehem, given that he owned enough land to house an inn.
The day the young couple knocked on his door, our innkeeper might have been so weary from tending to the travelers lodged on his land that he shooed Mary and Joseph away quickly, closing the door behind them. He certainly didn’t need one more knock on that door. There was no room for an ant, much less a man, a pregnant woman, and a donkey. All he probably wanted to do was eat supper and rest, not unlike many of us after a long day at work or at home tending to little ones. He had no idea that the couple he just sent on their way were about to become the parents of the long-awaited Messiah.
Mr. Innkeeper was part of God’s magnificent plan, a plan that had been foretold hundreds of years before. The tiny baby boy that was born and placed in a stone feed trough would one day die for the sins of all mankind, including the sins of the innkeeper.
Did he ever realize exactly who had passed his door? Was he too busy to take notice of the shepherds and the star that led them to the baby?
How often are you and I like Mr. Innkeeper? We are rushed, stressed, and a hot mess much of the time, causing us to never notice that Jesus has passed our way. This Christmas, can we learn a lesson from our Innkeeper friend? Let’s make time and space for Jesus; let’s show the love of Christ to those who do not know Him. Because, after all, He is the reason for the season.
How are you being intentional about making room and time for Jesus this Christmas? Will you continue in that practice after Christmas is past?