Most of us are familiar with the Christmas story and how Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem. As you may recall, they were traveling to register because Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that everyone travel to their home town for the census. A very pregnant Mary traveled with her husband, Joseph and arrived just in time for nightfall. Here’s where the story gets interesting. Joseph tries to check in at the hotel but there is no room at the inn. Those famous words have been repeated for centuries as the Christmas story has been told and retold; and those are the words I want to focus on today.
“No room at the inn!” Now that is interesting. Think of all the pomp and circumstance that a King or Queen receive. Even here in America where we do not have monarchs that rule, we understand that they are to be celebrated. All of us remember Princess Diana and how much she filled our news, and she was only ex-royalty. Oh we know how to treat “important” people. How about our president, I doubt that he goes too many places without an entourage of people to escort him. These people are special, we celebrate them, protect them, cherish them. If President Obama was coming to the little town of LaMoille, imagine the preparation we would do. Room at the inn, shoot we might even build a new high class hotel to house him and “his people.” A few years ago, the children of our church were working had on their play for Christmas. It was called, “A King is Coming” and took place in the little town of Rumors Mill. In the story, the people in town catch wind of the news that a king is coming and the town is set to work preparing for this important visitor.
Israel knew that a king was coming. They should have been ready to welcome him, celebrate him, cherish him. They should have been waiting like a child for Christmas morning, in eager expectation for His coming, but that is not at all what happened. There were no preparations made, no celebrations, and no news reports. In fact, most of them missed it. A tiny baby wasn’t what they expected. They were looking for someone with more power and certainly someone more majestic than a baby. You know, a real king. Most of Israel slept right through the coming of the Christ child. Not only was there no room at the inn but there was no room in all of busy Bethlehem, save for a lowly stable. Few people even took notice. Perhaps the Inn Keeper muttered a “congratulations” to the new parents but no one called the mayor. There was not a rush of visitors to the stable only a few shepherds. There is Casting Crowns song that puts it this way, “O little town of Bethlehem, looks like another silent night. Above your deep and dreamless sleep a giant star lights up the sky. While you’re lying in the dark, there shines an everlasting light, for the King has left His throne and is sleeping in a manger tonight…O Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping. For God became a man and stepped into your world today. O Bethlehem, you will go down in history as a city with no room for its King…”
Wow, they missed it big time. Good thing we aren’t like them, right? Or are we? This question is two fold. First let’s look at this Christmas season. The time has come once again to celebrate the birth of our Savior. How much time have we spent celebrating that? Have we been too busy buying gifts, decorating, baking, etc. to stop and celebrate this King? Has Jesus come only to find that there is “No room Within?”
Now the second part of the question focuses on the promise that this very same Savior will come again. Like Israel, we have read the prophesies. We know that this same King is coming again. The truth has been told and retold for generations. We should be waiting in hopeful expectation for His return. But are we ready? When He comes will He find that we still have no room within? The final verse to the Casting Crowns song goes like this, “United States of America, looks like another silent night. As we’re sound asleep by philosophies of save the trees and kill the children. While we’re lying in the dark there’s a shout heard across the eastern skies. For the Bridegroom has returned and He’s carried his bride away in the night…America what will we miss while we are sleeping? Will Jesus come again and leave us slumbering where we lay? America, will we go down in history as a nation with no room for its King?”