The Christmas story is so familiar. Many people have heard it since they were young, in one way, shape or form. The manger scenes, the shepherds, the wise men are all a part of a cultural narrative that has been told and retold for two thousand years. With a story so familiar, it’s easy to think it has nothing new to teach us. Yet, the word of God is living and active — which means it works in us in new ways every time we digest it.
Let’s consider this familiar passage from the book of Luke:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
A worldwide census is taking place. Mary and Joseph travel 90 miles from their home town in order to register. Mary is pregnant and after she had given birth she has no place but a cave used as a kennel for sheep to lay the baby. How could this be?
There would have been many people traveling like Joseph and Mary to register for this census. Bethlehem would have been jam-packed with foreigners, and the inns would have been in a busy season. Still, it begs the question —was there no innkeeper willing to make room for a pregnant girl?
Or perhaps this pregnant girl was precisely why there was “no place for them in the inn”? In those days to be pregnant out of wedlock was shameful, to say the least. Perhaps the innkeeper chose not to bear the disgrace of housing people of such ill repute.
But, as we know, Mary was no ordinary girl. She had been chosen to give birth to the Son of God. The innkeepers didn’t know this, and in the hustle and bustle of their busy season I doubt they were in any place to hear this. To be busy often means to be too occupied for the opportunities God has placed right in front of us.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
Without even knowing it, the innkeeper turned away the Son of God. Though the question was posed through the lips of Mary and Joseph, the answer affected God.
Whether we recognize it or not, in a variety of quiet, normal and personal ways, Christ comes asking us the same — do you have a place for Me?
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
God looks for the answer to this question in the quiet, personal, hidden places of our lives. He looks in the places no one can see but Him. He looks in our heart. He looks in our motives. He doesn’t just see our actions, He sees everything that makes up an action: motive, will, purpose, deed.
God peers deep.
I the Lord search the heart and test the mind
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.
1 Thessalonians 2:4
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart
1 Timothy 1:5
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Do we have a place for Christ in our lives? Are the rooms of our hearts already occupied with other things? Do we move through our days looking for Him in unlikely places?
Do you have a place for Him who has made a place for you?
Practice and Prayer:
In the next four parts of this devotional we will look at four different characters in the early life of Jesus and see how they answered this question. Before you continue, set the timer for 3 minutes and sit in silent prayer. Listen to the voice of God asking you this question, “Do you have a place for me?” Respond to Him in your heart.