Have you ever had one of those birthdays when you wanted people to throw a party for you? You imagined getting some nice presents, and even hinted at the ones you wanted. Every time you went out, you expected people to jump out and yell, “Happy Birthday!” You were looking forward to it with great excitement, but nothing happened!
The party never took place. In fact, it seemed like people forgot your birthday. Or worse, they remembered it but failed to acknowledge it.
Christmas Is a Birthday
That is what Christmas can be like. It is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ but we get caught up in the wrong things and forget His birthday.
Merchants want you to shop ‘til you drop and shoppers fixate on finding all the good deals. Did you know that years ago on Black Friday, a Walmart employee was trampled to death as a crowd rushed in to find a few savings? And in Tennessee, a woman was trampled at the entrance of a Toys R Us when the store opened its doors. Thankfully, she survived.
We all need to just relax a little bit and remember the reason for the season: Jesus. This is the time when we celebrate our Savior’s birth. In the midst of our activities and preparations for Christmas, how often do we forget about the honored guest?
We string our lights, trim our trees, talk about the holiday, hear recorded songs mentioning the birth of Jesus… But how many people actually take time for Him? While we run around the malls and buy things for everyone we know, we can forget to make room in our schedules for Him.
The First Christmas
Something similar happened in the first century, on the very first Christmas. There was no room for Jesus…
Mary and Joseph had been biding their time in Nazareth. It was getting closer and closer to the day of Mary’s delivery. Then, suddenly, an announcement was made that everyone had to be taxed, and everyone had to go to their initial hometown for this to take place.
Because Mary and Joseph were both descendants of King David, they made their journey to Bethlehem—which was David’s hometown (Luke 2:1-5). When this announcement was made, they probably thought about it as a great hassle.
Maybe you’re wondering, “Why would God want Mary to make this long, difficult journey to Bethlehem this late in her pregnancy?” Well, we know that God is a stickler for detail. Scripture had said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so that’s where Mary and Joseph had to go.
Make Room for Jesus
As we think about the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, we can romanticize this in our minds. We imagine a full moon with the silhouettes of Mary and Joseph against a starlit sky, and soft, angelic music playing in the background.
But the fact of the matter is that this was a very hard journey. It would have been difficult under any circumstances, but the fact that Mary was so late in her pregnancy made it even more so. It was approximately a 90 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
In those days, people would travel about 20 miles a day. They didn’t travel a flat, paved road, but rugged terrain that would go up and down. It likely would have been in the dead of winter, with temperatures in the 30s. At night, it would have been freezing cold. Add to that the danger of wild animals—not to mention the threat of potential robbers and bandits.
Mary and Joseph probably comforted themselves with the thought of a warm bed waiting for them in Bethlehem. But that was not to be the case. When they arrived, they found there was no room for them at the inn, so Mary had to give birth under unexpected, unideal circumstances; the Savior of the world was possibly born in a stable or cave (Luke 2:7).
There was no room for Jesus at the inn, just like there’s no room for Him in some people’s lives today. And even during a season He’s meant to be the center of, some still don’t make room…
Is there room for Jesus in your life right now? As we move into the Christmas season, and as we prepare to start a new year with new opportunities, will you make room in your life for Him?
This article originally appeared on Greg’s blog and is reposted here by permission.