“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:4-7 (NIV)
“…there was no room for them in the inn.” (NKJV) We have often misunderstood and misplayed the Christmas story in our pageants, I believe. We have traditionally shown Mary and Joseph to go to what we would call a hotel and ask for a room. The Inn Keeper comes to the door and tells them “Sorry, all full!” And then, turns them away. They end up in a small barn and this is where Jesus is born. This is only partially true.
The Greek word “Katalyma” is better rendered “guest room” like the NIV. People, at this time in history, did not stay at Inns but with relatives in their homes. Mary and Joseph probably went to one of Joseph’s relatives but there was no guest room empty so they stayed in the lower level of the house where the animals were housed. It is terribly sad that Joseph’s relatives could not have been more accommodating, especially in light of the circumstances. But that is another story. Can you imagine how this would have made Mary and Joseph feel? The Christmas story is full of human faith, love and courage as we read about it in scripture. Such was the night Jesus was born. Such was the faith, love and courage of this young couple. Praise God for them.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for preserving for us the stories surrounding Jesus’ birth in scripture. They paint a very different picture when we study them. They paint pictures of the faith of people, the love of people and the courage and strength of people in the face of adversity. We thank you for the lessons we can learn in reading scripture in this Christmas season. In Jesus' name – Amen.