|Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,|
lying in a manger.
Two weeks ago, we went to a stockholders’ meeting at a local stockyard. The Shriners cooked the meal: melt-in-your-mouth steaks, baked potatoes cooked to perfection, salad, yummy desserts and sweet tea. We enjoyed the food, the conversation with our neighbors, a short devotion, then a business meeting to present and vote on the minutes and the financial accounts for the stockholders. All neat and tidy.
You know how those meetings generally are, don’t you? Fairly boring, other than the food. But on this night the speaker really made an impact on me.
He talked about the birth of Jesus. Specifically about the innkeeper. Did you know that the Bible never actually mentions the innkeeper? The scripture says that baby Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn. That’s it.
It doesn’t say that the innkeeper turned them away because there were ten other men standing there with money that Joseph didn’t have. It doesn’t say that the innkeeper looked at the poor couple, at their tattered clothes, dusty, dirty feet, smudged faces, greasy lank hair and slammed the door in their faces. It doesn’t say that he saw that they were from
Nazareth and deliberately
turned them away.
It doesn’t say that the innkeeper saw Joseph and his very expectant wife, stroked his beard, checked the stars and thought, hmmm, I wonder if this could be the Christ Child, and so that scripture can be fulfilled, I must put them in the stable.
Scripture doesn’t mention the innkeeper at all, but he’s been vilified in countless stories, songs, and plays as a heartless man who didn’t care about Mary and Joseph or baby Jesus.
And I don’t get the feeling that Joseph puffed out his chest and insisted that his wife was carrying the Son of God, and that they deserved the best room in the inn. I’m certain Mary didn’t say anything either, because she “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
We know the inn was bursting at the seams. Seems like the innkeeper was doing his best to provide some kind of lodging for every one who came to his door. At least he gave them a place to stay. Or what if he didn’t send them to the stable? What if he didn’t even know they were in there? If that’s the case, he would have had every right to throw them out into the streets, but he didn’t. Is it possible that a stable in
might have even been as nice as Joseph and Mary’s own home in Nazareth?
So, what do we really know about the innkeeper? How can we get all mad at a man who might not even have known about the baby and certainly didn’t know who this baby was?
It’s entirely possible (even likely) the innkeeper didn’t have an inkling of the events unfolding in his stable that night until the shepherds showed up, and the scripture doesn’t include him or anyone from his household even then. Did the shepherds show up that very night and then leave before daybreak? If so, the exhausted innkeeper was probably asleep in his bed, resting up for another busy day at the inn. Clueless to the events unfolding in his stable.
Regardless of what he knew, how much he knew, and when he knew it, there was a place for Jesus in the innkeeper’s busy, hectic, stress-filled life on Christmas Eve.
We, dear friends, are blessed beyond measure, because we are not clueless. We know the whole story and still ... I wonder….
Where did we put Jesus on this blessed Christmas Eve?