No Room in the House . . . But Everyone’s Invited
By Danny Saavedra
“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. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them . . . When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’”—Luke 2:6-9, 15 (NIV)
“’Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him’ . . . When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”—Matthew 2:2, 10–11 (NIV)
Do you remember your first family vacation? I do! Ours was a trip to North Carolina for a wedding. It was also the first time we had taken my son, who was about 17 months old at the time, on an airplane. As you can expect, sitcom-style insanity ensued. Our son cried like crazy on the flight; we stayed with our close friends, who also had a one-year-old, and it was quite the adventure, and not at all what we were expecting. But it was also a lot of fun and a beautiful time with amazing memories we still look back on and remember fondly.
I imagine this is what it was like for Mary and Joseph . . . Extremely crazy and hectic, long and arduous, and full of surprises, but ultimately one of the most amazing memories of their lives. Picture it . . . Mary was very pregnant at this point, and they had to load up a donkey and head for Bethlehem, the place where their ancestors came from—a town they had never lived in, where they had a few distant relatives still living there, but likely not anyone they were in close contact with. Now, they had to hope one of their relatives had enough room for them to stay.
But, by the time Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, none of their relatives had room for them. All of their rooms were full, but probably because they were family and because Mary was pregnant, one relative let them stay in the lower room where the animals were kept at night. Imagine something like a basement or garage where you keep your dog or cat . . . or your cows and donkeys!
Isn’t that insane? But it gets even crazier . . . Do you know where Jesus, the Savior, slept His first night on Earth? Not in a fancy crib or nice bed; He was placed in a manger, a feeding trough out of which livestock would eat. Now, often this manger is depicted in a traditional nativity scene as a wooden bassinet, but the reality is that it was more like a big rectangular stone farm sink sitting on a pair of cinder blocks!
There was no room for Jesus on Earth that night, and yet, with the invitation to the shepherds in the nearby field and the later arrival of the wise men from the East, the Lord showed us that everyone is invited to come and worship at the feet of Jesus. How so? Out of everyone who possibly could have been invited from the whole of Jewish society, God picked a band of shepherds to hear the news of Jesus’ birth and to come worship Him. That’s such a powerful picture for us because shepherds were among the lowest social groups.
Consider how the shepherds’ work kept them from entering into the mainstream of Jewish society, from ceremonial cleansing, and often even from observing all the religious festivals and feasts. And yet, these shepherds, who were undoubtedly caring for sheep that would one day be used as sacrifices in the temple, were invited. As John MacArthur so aptly said, “How fitting it is that they were the first to know of the Lamb of God!”
Even more profound for us today would be the arrival of the wise men, a group of Babylonian/Persian priests and astrologers, who boldly went on the very first star trek in search of a King. But here’s the thing: These wise men were Gentiles, non-Jews. They trusted in God’s Word so much that they left their land in search of the promised Messiah. They sought Him in faith and with all their hearts and rejoiced with exceeding great joy as they found their way to Him. When they found Him in all His humble splendor, they offered Him extremely valuable gifts fit for a King. This shows us that all are welcome at the feet of Jesus, the glorious gift of God, the Messiah and King. All are welcome to come and worship Him and be saved!
This Christmas, I pray we embrace this same mentality. I pray we view people, regardless of their background, beliefs, or lifestyle, with the same love, compassion, and kindness that Jesus does. And I pray that, like the star that guided the wise men to Jesus, we could be the light of the world that draws people to worship our King!