The Birth of Jesus Christ, as we say, the reason for the season. Seven verses to change the world.
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. Interesting that is says “all the world should be registered.” Certainly all the world that mattered to anyone involved in the story, for sure. All the world that Caesar Augustus wanted to tax and use for military service for sure. Because Jews were exempt from military service, for Mary and Joseph this would have been all about being registered to pay the tax man. Interestingly enough, under Roman custom they would have simply been counted where they live currently…much as we do today. It was the Jewish ancestral traditions that drove them to make the 80 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
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. The Jewish ancestral traditions, all those lineages we find in the Bible. Without these traditions, Mary stays in Nazareth, as well she should have, to deliver her baby boy. Without these lineages, without the importance placed on ancestry, on where are you from, in Jewish life, this prophecy is not fulfilled. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” Micah 5:2 NLT
Up to that point, Mary was living in the wrong place. But, because of her betrothal to be married to Joseph, she too was now an heiress in the line of King David, so she had to make this 80 mile journey not because she wanted to, but under the rule and force of Roman law. But God…
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. So the prophecy from Micah, along with so many other prophecies, could also be fulfilled. “This is the Lord ‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalms 118:23 ESV. The tiny village of Bethlehem was apparently overrun with travelers coming to be registered just as Joseph and Mary came. We have the most famous words here “No room at the inn”, but Jesus wasn’t born as we are problem picturing it. Jesus wasn’t born in a barn or some kind of side building to an inn. Bethlehem is riddled with caves, and it is almost certainly in one of these caves that Christ came into the world. We think we even know the cave in which He was born. There are several churches built on the site, and yes, if you make the trip into Bethlehem you can visit the cave in which (we believe) the savior of the world was born.
Born in a cave because there was no room at the inn. These days, for a very affordable price for sure, we would certainly make room at the inn. We just have no room in our hearts. We have no room in our lives. We would just have something better to do on a Friday night (or whatever night of the week it happened to be. I have no idea what night Jesus was born on). We would be too busy. We certainly wouldn’t be watching the stars to then make a thousand mile journey on foot to bring gifts and worship just another baby born out of wedlock to common teen age parents.
No room at the inn. The only place there was space for Jesus when He came was on a Roman crucifix. No room in Rome for a king with a heavenly kingdom. No room in synagogue for a rabbi who overturned the Torah. No room for a Messiah who’s weapons were love and forgiveness, not revenge and a sword.
No room in our inn either. No room for a Christ who calls us to love our enemies. After all…He never met our enemies. No room for a Jesus who sleeps with the homeless. No room for a Christ who loves prisoners (or inmates, as we would call them). No room for a Jesus who eats with the hungry. No room for a savior who demands we see each one as we see Him.
No room for His word. Despite the fact that the average American adult gets ELEVEN (count ’em!) hours per day on electronic devices (per Nielson reports, March 2015), most of those same adults, including self described Christians, claim to have no time to read God’s word shared with us in His Holy Bible.
No room for forgiveness in our angry hearts. No room for mercy in our need for security. No trust in God when we have our 401(k). No time to love others when we have so many (important!!) things to do.
He came looking for room in the overcrowded hearts of men. His search, and His rejection, continue to this day.
“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.”
Luke 2:1-7 ESV