************ Sermon on Luke 2:7b ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 19, 1999
"No Room in the Inn"
Church School Program, 1999
I No Room in the Inn
A "There was no room for them in the inn," says our text. Scripture doesn't tell us why there was no room. Perhaps Bethlehem's inn was full because of the census. Or perhaps a garrison of soldiers took up all the available rooms.
Whatever the reason, a young couple about to have their first child were turned away. How terrible the heartlessness of the unnamed and unmentioned innkeeper. How terrible that no one in Bethlehem made room for an expectant mother and her husband. How terrible that there was no room for Jesus.
B The argument can be made that the inn keeper and everyone else in Bethlehem did not know what they were doing when they made no room for Joseph and Mary and the soon to be born Jesus. I came across a poem this past week. In it we are to hear the voice of the innkeeper:
Subtopic: Incarnation of
How could I know
That they were so important?
Just the two,
No servants, just a workman sort of man,
Leading a donkey, and his wife thereon
Drooping and pale, -- I saw them not myself,
My servants must have driven them away;
But had I seen them, -- how was I to know?
Were Inns to welcome stragglers, up and down
In all our towns from Beersheba to Dan
Till He should come? And how were men to know?
There was a sign, they say, a heavenly light
Resplendent: but I had no time for stars,
And there were songs of angels in the air
Out on the hills; but how was I to hear
Amid the thousand clamors of an Inn?
What the inhabitants of Bethlehem did in their ignorance – after all, they had no reason to know that Jesus was the Messiah – is done by many today with the most deliberate indifference: they refuse to make room for the Son of God. They give Him no place in their feelings, affections, thoughts, wishes, decisions, actions, or daily conduct.
Subtopic: Of Christ
Title: The Chief Reason had been Forgotten
The story is told of a baptism that was to be held many years ago by a very wealthy European family. Many guests were invited to the home for the occasion and came in the very latest fashionable garb. Their wraps and coats were carried to a bedroom and laid upon the beds. After the usual conversation and commotion, they were ready for the baptism ceremony and someone asked, "Where is the baby?" The nurse was sent upstairs to look and returned in alarmed distress. The baby was nowhere to be found! After several minutes' search someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds, and after a frantic search the little child was found smothered under the wraps of the guests. The chief reason why they had come had been forgotten, neglected, and destroyed!
This Christmas many will forget, neglect, and even destroy the Christ child! He is smothered by the tinsel, wrapping paper, ribbon, and make-believe that surround the holiday season today. Just like "there was no room for them in the inn," so many people today have no room for Jesus.
Those words, "There was no room for them in the inn," remind me of an experience my family had several years ago. We had been traveling all day, and I was trying to find a motel where we could spend the night. It was getting late, and all of us were tired and fidgety. As we drove along the highway, our hopes were dashed time and again by the sight of NO VACANCY signs. I became frustrated and discouraged. But then I thought of Mary and Joseph. How much worse it must have been when they arrived in Bethlehem and found no rooms available! I can imagine Joseph pleading with the manager of the inn, telling him of Mary's condition and their desperate need for a suitable place where she could give birth to her child.Today, nearly 20 centuries later, millions of people still have no room for Jesus. Although they participate enthusiastically in the festivities of the Christmas season, they keep Him out of their lives. The "No Vacancy" sign is there.
That there was no room in the inn was symbolic of what was to happen to Jesus. The only place there was room for Him was on a cross. He sought and was denied an entry into the overcrowded hearts of men. Today He still seeks and is still denied entry into the overcrowded hearts of many people.
Now I need to ask you: Have you made room for Jesus in your heart and in your life? That's the most important question you can answer this Christmas season. Have you, by grace, made room for Jesus? Or, do you shut Him out like so many others do?
II The Plan of God
A There are no accidents in a universe under the control of God. Nothing happens without His will. This is especially true when it came to the events of Christ's birth. God's eternal plan was that the Messiah would be turned away from the inn and be born in a stable.
Why? Why would this be God's plan? What was His eternal purpose here? What is God's message for us in this stable birth?
It is obvious from the Bible that Joseph and Mary had tried the inn. We can only conclude from this that they had no close family in the village, and that no one offered them the hospitality of their home. Back then, like today, only travelers used an inn. Under the ancient law of hospitality all Jews were expected to show hospitality to any fellow Jews who needed a place to stay. In other words, only strangers, aliens, and sojourners looked for lodging in an inn.
Think of what this means. If Mary and Joseph and Jesus stayed in an inn, this meant they were strangers, aliens, sojourners.
Think of what happens when you travel. When I and my family travel to Ontario or Indiana or Wisconsin we don't stay in a hotel or motel. We stay with family or friends. Only strangers stay in a hotel or motel overnight.
You all have heard of the Ronald McDonald houses that have been put up close to hospitals around the country. These are meant to be a home away from home for those families with seriously ill children in the hospital. The message being given is that those who stay at a Ronald McDonald house are with family and friends who care for them; they are not like strangers who stay at a motel or hotel.
B When we look at the Old Testament we hear the prophet Jeremiah making a complaint that the Lord is like a stranger, an alien, a sojourner. He said:
(Jeremiah 14:8) O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night?The complaint is that God only passes through. He is like a salesman who spends the night at a hotel and in the morning is gone.
We know the reason for Jeremiah's complaint: Israel's sin. On account of sin God was like a stranger to the people. On account of sin, God was like an alien to them. On account of sin, God was like a traveler, a sojourner, who did not stay with them.
C What's the connection with Jesus? God did not want Jesus staying in Bethlehem's inn like a stranger, an alien, a sojourner. Rather, He was to stay in the local stable as a resident. Jesus came to earth not as an alien, but as a resident; not as someone simply passing through, but as the Immanuel – God with us in the flesh.
"There was no room for them in the inn." God planned it this way. This was God's way of saying that in Jesus He is no longer absent from and alien to His people. This was God's way of saying that He was no longer like a stranger.
In your life, my brothers and sisters, is Jesus a stranger, an alien, a sojourner? Or, is He a permanent resident of your heart? Again the question: Have you made room for Jesus in your heart and life this Christmas?
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