Read Luke 2:4-7
4So 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. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NIV)
One of the more interesting characters in the Christmas story is one who is actually never mentioned and is only eluded to, the Innkeeper. Over the centuries, the innkeeper has received a lot of negative writing. He was another symbol of rejection of the Christ.
But when we look at the circumstances faced by Mary and Joseph, and the nature of what an inn was in those times, I think we have done the innkeeper an injustice. We have stereotyped him like so many other people. We have done the thing that Christ does not want us to do, label someone without understanding that person.
See, all we know about the innkeeper comes from a partial sentence. We read that Mary wrapped Jesus in cloths and laid him in a manger, “because there was no room for them in the inn.” There was no room.
William Barkley years ago made the point that the innkeeper may have been the only “friend” Mary and Joseph had. It we look to the fact that most inns were divided into two sections. One for the people and one for the animals. Where the people stayed would have been crowded and dirty and no very private.
When I visited Bethlehem a few years back, we see that many of the homes and stables were actually built into the caves that lined the area. Many of the homes had a place for the animals to be kept at night for safe keeping. These would have been quiet and away from everyone. We can get the image that the innkeeper could have simply told them there was no room. But we get the picture that he made a choice to find them a place where Mary could have her child and have a certain amount of privacy without everyone watching.
This is the same thing we face when presented by problems of others. Often we may not have the resources to help them, and so, we can tell them we have nothing to help them with. Or we can try to do what we can. Often God will take that effort and do wonders with it. When did you help someone that you thought you really wouldn’t be able to help? Did you ever see God step in and do a wonder as you tried to help? God calls us to do what we can. That is the witness of the innkeeper. He did what he could and Luke recorded it for all to know. We always have a choice when asked for help. How we will respond is the question.
Blessings and Peace