Every time I read the Christmas story, it amazes me that the Savior of the world was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
There is much about the incarnation to amaze and confound us. What kind of divine power was required for the One who has no beginning or end to be born? For the Almighty to come as a babe? Why would the King of Kings make His entrance in the lowliest of ways?
How could the world, by and large, miss His coming? I do not want to be too hard on the innkeeper. (Isn’t it a kindness of God’s grace that the Holy Spirit did not inspire Luke to record his actual name?) He does find a way to make some accommodations for this couple amid the chaos of a governmentally mandated census. Obviously, Joseph and Mary were not the only ones turned away on that first Christmas night.
It is harder to make excuses for the unnamed guests who watched Joseph plead for a spot for his very pregnant wife, only to be redirected to the stable. Compassion was unable to move any of them to give up their room for a young girl possibly already in labor seems … well, sinful. They missed a chance to serve the Lord by showing simple kindness to “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40). But how could they know Mary was about to give birth to Immanuel?
Sadly, no matter how many times the story is retold, there are many who simply cannot see Christ in Christmas. How much greater is that danger amid a COVID Christmas? How can we intentionally make room this year?
Do not allow all you need to get done to distract you from what God is doing. The decree of Caesar Augustus had turned everyone’s world upside down. The fact that Mary and Joseph were forced to make such a journey in her ninth month proves that everyone was dealing with huge inconveniences. Their lives and businesses had all been put on hold. They just wanted to get through this so they could get back to normal. Sound familiar?
Do not waste your crisis.
For people like the innkeeper, this census obviously proved to be a financial windfall. Can you imagine the price gouging? Like every parking lot within five miles of Rupp Arena during basketball season, I can imagine people renting out rooms, roofs and even stables.
All the major retailers are finding ways to deliver their goods this Christmas. Surely the church can find creative ways to announce the coming of the Savior!
Do not fail to meet the need of the one right in front of you. There are likely creative ways to pull off some grand events, but do not become so distracted that you miss the clear needs around you. Do for the one what you wish you could do for the many this Christmas.
Do not miss a chance to glorify God by sharing about Jesus. Luke 2:16-18 tells us that “with haste” the shepherds ran to find this baby, the Christ, announced to them by the angelic hosts. Then, they made “widely known” everything they had seen and heard. All who heard it “marveled.”
May we marvel once again over the goods news that Christ has come to save sinners! Let us make it widely known!
Rob Patterson is evangelism team leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.