“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:4-7).

This is such a well-known story that we may sometimes overlook what was happening here. When this story is told it is related in such a way as to make it appear that Mary and Joseph were strangers in Bethlehem and that Mary had the Baby almost immediately upon arrival. But a closer look may shed a different light upon it.

First, because of the way the story reads it is unlikely Joseph was frantically looking for a place to lodge for the night because the birth of Jesus was imminent. The text reads…

“that while they were there (Bethlehem), the days were completed for her to give birth”.

It is interesting to note that the One who would later call Himself the Bread of Life began His life in a manger in a town called Bethlehem which means House of Bread.

In all likelihood Mary and Joseph had been lodging in the stable for a few days before Jesus was born. Second, the stable probably belonged to someone in Joseph’s family. It is not reasonable to assume that Joseph just decided to pick up and go to Bethlehem with a wife far advanced in pregnancy without at least attempting to make some arrangements. Also, Bethlehem was Joseph’s hometown and as such he likely had relatives there that would put him up if possible. That they ended up in a stable with a manger as Jesus’ crib does not contradict this scenario at all.

The word “inn” used above has twice been translated as “guest room”. When the disciples asked Jesus where they were to prepare the Passover Supper near the end of His ministry He said…

“Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples”’” (Mark 14:13-14)?

Thus, the inn where there was no room for Mary and Joseph was likely the guest room of one of their relatives. Other relatives seeking a place to stay while in Bethlehem probably already occupied it, but like any good host a place was found for them – a stable.

Hospitality is a virtue underscored in the Bible. Abraham at one time extended hospitality to three men that turned out to be two angels and the Lord Himself.

“And when he (Abraham) lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, ‘My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.’ And they said, ‘So do, as you have said’” (Genesis 18:1-5).

Abraham did not know who these men were; he just knew they were travelers who needed a time of rest and refreshment. This incident is referred to in the New Testament when it speaks of the love Christians are to show to others.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Even Job, during one of his speeches to justify himself to his friends said…

“The alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my doors to the traveler” (Job 31:32).

In such a culture for Joseph’s relatives to turn him away would have almost been unforgivable. Of course if they had known that the Baby within Mary’s womb was the Messiah, the guest room (inn) would have likely been made available and the current occupant would have been placed in the stable. Instead, we see that at the very beginning of the Lord Jesus’ life His head was not laid upon the pillow of an honored guest, but in a manger in a stable.

It is interesting to note that the One who would later call Himself the Bread of Life began His life in a manger in a town called Bethlehem which means House of Bread.He lay where fodder was put to feed the animals. They would come to the manger expecting to be fed that they might live. This same Jesus later told the Jews…

“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51).

Jesus’ purpose on earth was to save lost, dead mankind and this He accomplished through His own death on the Cross and His resurrection from the tomb. To commemorate this we now celebrate the Lord’s Supper. How fitting that the Savior of the world would be introduced to the world lying in a manger.

Just as Jesus was not welcomed into the guest room when He was born because He was not recognized as the Messiah, neither was He given the proper respect later.

In the house of a Pharisee named Simon he was treated rudely and it took a prostitute who had made her way into Simon’s home to expose his behavior for what it was.

“And turning toward the woman, He (Jesus) said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume’” (Luke 7:44-46).

The common courtesy given to a house guest was denied Jesus. This Pharisee’s home was no place for Jesus to find rest or a place to lay His head.

When you invite a friends into your home your desire is to see to their needs. You ask them to sit down. Perhaps you offer them a drink, to stay and eat, or even spend the night if they are far from home. You visit with them, ask them about themselves, and spend time sharing common interests. Your goal is to make them as comfortable as possible so they will leave refresh, rested, and looking forward to the next time you meet.
We all long for fellowship like this; to know there is a place we can go and be accepted and welcomed. Jesus would have been no different, but just as He found Himself outside the home when He was born, so He was much of His life.

His life, with all the miracles He performed and with all the crowds that followed Him, may have looked glamorous to some who saw only superficially, not realizing the loneliness that Jesus experienced day by day. This is poignantly expressed by Jesus one day as He was traveling.

“And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’” (Luke 9:57-58).

How sad this truly is. Here was a Man that welcomed tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners into His presence; here was a Man who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, soundness of limb to the lame, and even raised the dead, but He had no place to lay His head. Even those who believed in Him while on the earth could not identify with Him. They often mistook what He said and twisted His words.

When you are feeling isolated because you think no one understands you remember Jesus. He too experienced loneliness, misunderstanding, and even slander. Yet, He did it willingly, but with an awareness that we often do not have.

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).

So desperate are we for companionship or fellowship at times that we, seeking a place to rest emotionally, turn to one we regard as a close friend to pour our hearts out to, only to find he does not understand or makes light of our plight or worse, uses this knowledge of us to harm us later if he becomes angry with us.

It is no wonder Jesus was a Man of prayer. The isolation He would have experienced on the earth would have driven Him to the mountains to seek His Father’s face; for it was there that He could find a place to lay His head and rest and be refreshed.

You may be thinking that Jesus did have a place to rest, to lay His head, while on the earth. It is logical to think he stayed with Peter from time to time since we know He healed Peter’s mother-in-law once while in his home. And He certainly was welcomed into the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. And no doubt there were others willing to offer Him a meal to eat or even a room in which to sleep. After all, the Upper Room, as it is called, where He shared His last Passover meal with His disciples, was such a place. As pointed out earlier the word “room” here is the same Greek word used as “inn” spoken of at the time of Jesus’ birth. So if Jesus did have places to go to rest how could He say…

“the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58)?

Certainly Jesus had physical locations that were open to Him to stay and sleep and thus, lay His head, even though as we have previously pointed out, that rest did not include the rest afforded those who have someone close to them that they can talk with openly and honestly, expecting them to understand. Even though Jesus may have risen from sleep physically refreshed, His soul and spirit would not have received the rejuvenation they required. Only the heavenly Father could do that.

Structures made of wood and stone, even if they are covered with silver and gold and studded with diamonds and other precious stones can never be a home for the Lord. He finds no place to lay His head and find rest in such places.

Also, throughout the last two thousand years beautiful cathedrals and churches have been built with the architects no doubt sure that the Lord would find them acceptable homes for Him – a place to lay His head. But this is very superficial thinking. Nor is it a new thought. In fact it is very old.

The Jews built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem for the Lord and the took great pride in it. But a building remains a building regardless of how beautiful or brilliantly designed it may be.

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest’” (Isaiah 66:1)?

Even the magnificence of the temple Solomon built could not contain the living God. Having finished the temple Solomon saw that it was awesome and unparalleled in craftsmanship. Nevertheless he wisely remarked…

“But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built” (2 Chronicles 6:18).

Structures made of wood and stone, even if they are covered with silver and gold and studded with diamonds and other precious stones can never be a home for the Lord. He finds no place to lay His head and find rest in such places.

Where then, if anywhere, has Jesus found a place to lay His head? Is He now in Heaven saying, “I have no place to lay my head”? The answer is no. Jesus now has a place to lay His head.

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it’” (Matthew 16:13-18).

When the Lord said He had no place to lay His head, He was not referring to physically laying His head down. It goes beyond that. When we speak of laying our hands upon someone we are speaking of conveying encouragement, strength, compassion, a blessing, or even a gift upon them. Likewise, when Jesus spoke of not having a place to lay His head He was inferring that there was no place upon this earth where His HEADSHIP was recognized or accepted.

The fact some people thought that Jesus might be a reincarnation of one of the prophets revealed the blindness within them. Jesus further emphasized this blindness when He was teaching in the Temple one day.

“Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet’”? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?’” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question” (Matthew 22:41-46).

What the Jews did not understand was that the Messiah was to be God in the flesh. But because they thought the Messiah would simply be a man, albeit an extraordinary man, they could not understand how King David could call one of his descendents “Lord”.

Two thousand years later the Jews are still looking for their Messiah and they are still looking for a man. On a TV talk show some years ago a rabbi described the Messiah as someone who could fail math in the 5th grade. In other words a mere human. Because of this belief Jesus had no place to lay His head, no place He could call home because they refused to recognize His right of headship. Indeed, Jesus told the Jews…

“you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you” (John 8:37).

Though He spoke words of life to those around Him, revealing the way to be reconciled with the Father, they rejected His words. Jesus is described as the Word in John chapter one; thus, when they rejected His words, they rejected Him.

However, since the confession of Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus now has a place to lay His head and He continues to expand it. This was planned from long ago in the heart of the Father.

“Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, but a body Thou hast prepared for Me’” (Hebrews 10:5).

This Body that has been prepared for Jesus is the Church; not a building, for we have seen the futility of thinking the God of the universe can be limited to a physical building, but rather living stones, Christians, that are being fitted together to become the Temple of God; a Temple with Jesus as the Head.

As a Baby in the manger Jesus rested His head upon straw. Straw is that which is what remains after the heads of the wheat are harvested. Think about this. The heads of wheat that had been harvested from the straw upon which Jesus lay His head as a newborn baby had fed the bodies of those who harvested it and others. Symbolically, Jesus became the new head of wheat of the straw upon which He lay, but it was a head of wheat that was to become the Bread of Life to feed the spirits of His creation. Yet, it was not until His creation recognized Him as Lord and Savior, recognized His headship, that they could partake of this special food.

We may offer sacrifices of time, money, or talent to the Lord, in essence trying to purchase a room for Jesus in our lives, but we find the price is too high and all we have succeeded in doing is laying Jesus in a manger, away from the day to day activities that we engage in.

For too long man wandered aimlessly searching for something to fill the void within him. Yet the heart of some was full of sin and no room was found for Jesus. For others their heart was full of religion and no room was found for Jesus. For others their heart was full of good works and no room was found for Jesus.

For too long we have thought how unkind, how thoughtless, how unjust it was for Jesus to be placed in a stable at His birth when in truth we have done the same thing. Desiring to fill the void within we have rejected the One thing that could fill it and give us peace. We do not allow the Lord Jesus to lay His head upon our hearts because there is no room for Him. We have consigned Him to the “stable” of our lives so that He is close by, but not so close as to make us uncomfortable with His presence.

Speaking to the Christians in Corinth Paul said…

“Make room for us in your hearts” (2 Corinthians 7:2).

Paul desired to share his life with the Corinthians, but the only way that could happen was if they opened their hearts to him. So it is with the Lord and us. We have to make room. That does not mean we have to get everything right in our lives first and then invite Jesus in. On the contrary He is waiting for us to acknowledge our inability to clean up our heart and to acknowledge that it is full of sin. The Psalmist understood this and recognized there was nothing he could do to win God’s favor. He said…

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalms 51:17).

We may offer sacrifices of time, money, or talent to the Lord, in essence trying to purchase a room for Jesus in our lives, but we find the price is too high and all we have succeeded in doing is laying Jesus in a manger, away from the day to day activities that we engage in. Only when our heart is broken by the Lord and we acknowledge in humility our inability to save ourselves is room made for Jesus to lay His head upon our hearts.

“For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15).

Jesus will not lay His head upon the heart of the proud, for the proud reject the headship of Jesus, preferring instead to rely upon their own ability to save themselves. It is only with the humble, the poor in spirit, that the headship of Jesus is established and a place is found to lay His head.

After Jesus had told the Jews that they must drink His blood and eat His flesh in order to obtain eternal life many turned away from following Him. They found His words offensive.

“Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom we shall go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God’” (John 6:67-69).

Once again it is Peter that proclaims the deity of Jesus and begins to make room in his heart for Him to lay His head there.

What about us? If Jesus were to stand before us would He be able to say, “Yes, I live in this one. I have found lodging here.” Or would He have to say, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58)? Jesus said…

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

Make room for Jesus – He has made room for you.

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