24 December 2013

No Room at the Inn: A Christmas Devotional

This is my first guest post, written by my dad, Dr. George Rhoades. His yearly devotionals at Christmastime have always helped our family focus on a different aspect of the nativity. I'm honored to share this Christmas message with you.


Luke 2:1-7 (NASB) 
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (emphases added)


Questions for your family:

1. What have you learned from this passage?

2.  Why was it important for Jesus to be born and not just appear as an adult on Earth as our Savior?
     Jesus was born like all other children and as such experienced all of life as you and me.  This
     allows our Lord to know how we are and feel at the most basic of levels.  He would cry and
     become hungry like each of us.  He had to be changed when he soiled his clothes had to learn to crawl and walk
     and eventually die on the cross.  Jesus can understand us in our joy and pain as he went through life as a human,
     yet being fully God.

     Another important fact in the story is that Jesus was Mary's "firstborn."  This clearly says that Mary would/did have
     other children with her husband Joseph.  The teachings that Mary remained a virgin all her life are shown
     to be not true by this verse. Mary was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus.  Jesus did however later
     have both half-brothers and half-sisters.

3.  What was important about Jesus being wrapped in "cloths?"
     Being wrapped in swaddling cloths was important for the Shepherds to be able to identify Jesus (Luke 2:12).
     Swaddling cloths were also used sometimes to keep an infants limbs straight and unharmed. Finally, the same
     type of swaddling cloths were typically used to wrap a body with spices in between the layers for burial. It may be
     said that Jesus was "born to die" as He is our Savior and would one day be wrapped in death as he was at birth in
     swaddling cloths.
   
4.  Jesus was laid in a manger, what is significant about this?
     This was important as the Shepherds were to find him in a manger (verse 12).  The manger was seen as a feeding
     trough for animals and was typically chiseled out of rock.  Our Lord, the King of the Universe was placed in a lowly
     manager.  His humble beginnings in the stable, and sleeping in a manager means that our Lord can identify both with the
     poorest of the poor and of course the richest of the rich.

5.  Who said that there was "no room in the inn?"
     We actually don't know who said this as the verse merely says that there was no room in the inn. It could have been
     the harried innkeeper or even the many guests that were already crowded into the inn.  What we do know is that they
     were allowed to stay in the stable.

6.  Why was there "no room in the inn?"
     The census was being taken by the Roman Government and everyone had to return to their ancestral home.  Both
     Mary and Joseph were from the line of King David, so they had to return to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.

     But it wasn't just Mary and Joseph but everyone that traced their heritage back to Bethlehem.  We can only imagine
     the number of people trying to find lodging.  Many people had to travel hours if not days to arrive in Bethlehem.  The
     inns must have been very crowded with many tired and thus irritable people.  No one wanted to give up their space,
     even for this couple and especially Mary, she being ready to give birth.

     They were allowed however to stay in the stable which is typically a cave with many animals therein.  There would be
     no privacy for the birth of Jesus, but it was in a sheltered place.

7.  No one gave room for a pregnant woman, Mary, when she was ready to give birth.  In what ways have 
     we not given room for Jesus in our lives.  What will we do this Christmas to "make" room in our hearts, 
     homes and our lives for Jesus? How can we also "make" room for others that are in need?
     Christmas has become so commercialized that we often forget that "The Reason for the Season" is actually Jesus.
     It is important to take time to reflect on what Christmas means to each of us. We need to ponder if we allow Jesus
     in the center of our lives or do we "push" Him off into a stable, close to us, but not too close. Yes, we get tired and
     even irritated with the struggles and trials of life, but Jesus is waiting patiently for us to allow Him into our hearts,
     the center of our lives.
   
     Consider what might be the barriers of allowing Jesus to be the center of your life.  Share these barriers with another
     family member or accountability partner, pray for each other, and ask each other how you are dealing with these barriers
     each week.  Let it not be said that there is "no room in the inn" of our hearts.



Dr. George Rhoades is a licensed pastor, clinical psychologist, and traveling humanitarian trauma worker. You can read more about him and his ministries on his website Roads to Hope.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Blessings to you and your family :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Merry Christmas!

      Delete

Note: Comments awaiting moderation may not appear for several hours or--if the kids and I fall asleep at the same time--at least a day. Thank you for your patience and please do not feel deterred; your feedback and insight are most welcomed!