We usually reserve our Christmas discussion for the period of Advent leading up to Christmas Day. Then December 26 hits—decorations start to come down and the music returns to our favorite local stations for another 11 consecutive months.
But the truth of Christmas is something to be discussed and celebrated all throughout the year. When we compartmentalize the message of Christmas to only one month out of each year, we leave little room for the truth of the manger to have continuous penetration through our hearts.
Every year I draw nearer to God through the celebration of His Son coming to this earth over 2000 years ago. The older I get, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more there is for me to learn.
A couple of years ago I began pondering an element of Christmas that hasn’t quite baffled me in times prior. Sure, the whole thing is pretty bizarre—God sends His Son by immaculate conception in a woman’s womb, thereby joining God with human flesh and retaining full deity and full humanity in one. Incredible.
Every detail of this story is just mind-bending, but one detail in particular has snagged my heart that I haven’t been able to shake.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” ~Luke 2:7
The whole story of Christ’s coming to save His people is entirely and completely perplexing. The God of the universe, setting His sight and His mark on mankind to love relentlessly, chooses to navigate through the expanse of His creation in order to win back His love.
God knew man would sin. He was not surprised. And thus, for 2000 years, this dress rehearsing is taking place to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. Feasts, rituals, laws, all to ready God’s people to receive Him when He came to redeem them.
And what is His grand entrance, His grand reception into the earth?
God had 2000 years to plan for His own arrival on the scene among mankind. To plan something honorable, something worthy of Him, something fitting for a King. And how was He received?
…there was no room.
You would think He would have called ahead and made reservations. He is God, after all. You would think He would have sent an angel and said, “Hey, Joseph, God’s Son is about to be born… you are to go into such and such city and the first inn on the corner will have a room prepared for His arrival.”
But no. In all of His planning in two millennia—giving them the Law, giving them feasts, dress rehearsals of His coming, whispers of a Savior coming to rescue the people—Oh whoops… We forgot to make hotel reservations for His birth!!
What!? Why was this not a priority? We are talking about the environment in which He is birthed. How He makes an appearance among the people. And He chose the empty stall in the barn out back.
Can you imagine the stench? Can you imagine having your next baby with oxen and a lamb standing by to watch? No latex gloves, scrubs or hand sanitizer. No scales to weigh Him. A feeding trough is cleared out, and here we lay the Christ child.
This is just mind-blowing. We, in our sinful flesh, would be ashamed to place our own flawed, newborn baby in a barn, in a MANGER.
And this is God.
From the moment God became literally, physically present on this earth, He was not preoccupied with or glorifying comfort. He stooped so low as to be born in the place where smelly livestock stick their slobbering mouths to feed. From day one He became food for His sheep.
There was no room for Him.
God did not call ahead. He subjected His own perfection, wrapped in vulnerable human baby skin, to some of the most disgusting conditions by even human standards.
But more than that, He did not prepare a place for His own Son.
We give the people a bad rap for not allowing Mary and Joseph into the inn that night. But we rarely pause to ponder the unthinkable truth that the Father in Heaven did not prepare a place for Him.
From day one, there was no room for Him here. From day one, the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head. He came upon the story of our lives with no Kingly provision. And what does He do with it? How does heaven respond to it? Read this carefully:
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ” ~Luke 2:8-14
We have read these words so many times every year that we have grown complacent over them. But let me ask you: When was the last time you saw a baby born in a barn and laid in a manger, and your first reaction was to give glory to God and to celebrate new life with joyful shouts?
Our pious religiosity would expect that those angels give the people a good scolding for not taking better care of the One they have been worshiping and serving for eternity past up until this point. How dare they not have room for Him!?!
But what we see here is a heavenly host that can’t hardly contain themselves to let just one little guy do the announcing, and they burst through Heaven’s doors into what can only be imagined as the most glorifying praise and worship song the earth had yet to receive, giving ALL of the attention to the One who is worthy. Glory to God in the highest!!
It did not seem to in any way detract from the glory in Heaven when He came to this earth. There is not one mournful sigh over the human conditions upon which He enters. It’s not even worth mentioning to them, actually.
And therein we see God’s heart from the beginning, that He would show us His purpose—He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
The Greek word for “room” in Luke 2:7 is topos, and it is literally translated as a place, a spot (general in space, but limited by occupancy). Another portion of scripture that this word appears is in John 14:2.
Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.”
He is much more preoccupied with preparing a place for you than He was with preparing a place for Himself.
God did not deem 2000 years of time worthy of preparing extravagant comfort for His 33 physical years here. Yet, these past 2000 years we know exactly what He’s been doing, because He told us before He ever left: He has gone to prepare a place for us. A place in our Father’s house with many, many rooms.
He is anticipating your arrival! He is planning a return to receive us!
The God who spent no time preparing a place for His only begotten Son has spent all His time preparing a place for you.
Let’s carve out room in our hearts this year for Emmanuel’s continual presence.
Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.