No Room for Jesus

Title: No Room for Jesus

Bible Book: Luke 2 : 7

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Christ; Birth of



The greatest event in the history of mankind was the coming of Jesus Christ into this world in a body of flesh and blood to carry out his redemptive mission. Many centuries earlier the Old Testament prophets had predicted that one day the Messiah would be born. Finally the time arrived. We read about it in Luke 2:1-7:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth his firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn.

As I look at verse 7, there are two things that especially impress me--the room denied, and the blessing missed. First, let's think about...

I. The Room Denied

A. Denied Then

It surely must have been obvious that Mary was with child and it seems to me that for a pregnant woman about to deliver a baby, the inn-keeper surely could have found some space inside his inn.

A man went into a hotel and asked the clerk for a room. The clerk said, "Sorry, Sir, we're all full. We just don't have any more rooms." The man said, "Well, let me ask you a question. If the President of the United States were to come in tonight and ask for a room, would you have one for him?" The clerk said, "Why, yes, we would." The man said, "Well, he's not coming, so I'll take that room."

I can't help but believe that if the inn-keeper had considered Joseph and Mary's need a high enough priority, he could have somehow provided them a room. But we aren't given any details. We don't know what the inn-keeper was thinking, or what his situation was. All we know is that "there was no room for them in the inn."

B. Denied Now

Things don't seem to have changed much today. Multitudes still don't make room for Jesus.

1. Commercially

Our nation has become so secularized, and so materialistic, that wherever you look there doesn't seem to be room for Jesus. Many stores no longer use the word "Christmas" in their advertisements during this time of the year, because they don't want to offend the atheists, the adherents of Eastern religions, or the members of the various cults. They now sell "Holiday trees," not Christmas trees. They instruct their employees to wish customers "Happy Holidays," and not to dare mention "Christmas" because that word makes reference to Christ. Whenever anyone says "Happy Holidays" to you or me, we should reply, "Thanks, and Merry Christmas to you!"

But in this anti-God and anti-Christ atmosphere which seems to be so widespread today, I am thankful that there are some exceptions. For instance, how I praise God for Hobby Lobby, which runs a full-page ad each year telling the Christmas story, and honoring the Son of God. May their tribe increase! Thank the Lord for other businesses owned and operated by believers who are unashamed to let their light shine for Jesus. But, alas, those are the exception. It seems that with the majority of business establishments today, there is no room for Jesus.

2. Educationally

The educational establishment has also gotten into the act. I noticed on the marquee of a public school in Memphis the words, "Winter break" and the dates. A few years ago that sign would have said "Christmas break." When one of our granddaughters was in the sixth grade in Kansas, they began practicing their music program to be presented before they dismissed for their break. The program script called for the children to close their presentation by shouting "Merry Christmas!" But the music teacher told them that they weren't allowed to say that, because the word "Christmas" was off-limits throughout the school. Again, though, thank the Lord for the exceptions. There are dedicated Christian teachers who, in spite of running the risk of disciplinary action being taken against them, tell the children in their classes what Christmas is really all about.

3. Politically

Extreme left-wing liberal organizations are constantly protesting against nativity scenes being placed on public property, and against any mention of "Christmas" or "Christ" in the public square. These groups have gone berserk on the issue of so-called "political correctness"--and, sadly, many politicians have meekly gone along, fearful that they might offend someone or lose a vote. But, again, I am deeply grateful for the exceptions. How I praise God for those rare, courageous public officials who remember that this nation was founded by God-fearing people, most of whom were Christians--public officials who are willing to "buck the tide" and allow nativity scenes in their buildings or on their grounds.

4. Personally

But the sad fact remains that multitudes have gotten so caught up in this secular, commercial approach to Christmas, that they don't leave room for Jesus. Someone told of observing a woman who was hurriedly doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. Her little boy was with her, and she was dragging him from one store to another, looking for particular items on her list. At one point she saw that her little boy was lagging behind, peering into a store window. She rushed back to where he was and with obvious irritation said, "What are you doing, just standing here?" In the store window was a nativity scene. He said, "Look, Mama, there's baby Jesus." She said, "Come on. We don't have time for all of that nonsense--we've got to get ready for Christmas."

That may be an extreme case, but unfortunately that pretty well describes where a lot of folks are. Perhaps most people wouldn't express it as pointedly and crudely as that woman did--but the fact is that Jesus is pretty much left out of Christmas in so many homes and so many individual lives. Many give him a tip of the hat, so to speak, and pay lip service, but look at how most folks spend their money and their time during the Christmas season. They may make a nominal gift to missions or to charity, and go to one or two special church services, so that they can have warm, fuzzy feelings but that's about the extent of it. So far as focusing on the Son of God, and giving generously to missions and to the needy, and so far as being faithful Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night in church, and concentrating on magnifying and exalting the Lord Jesus in their social life and at work, that simply isn't part of most people's agenda during the Christmas season. Jesus is pretty much left out of the picture. Just as the inn-keeper denied a room to Joseph, Mary, and the unborn Christ child, neither do people today seem to have room for the crucified, risen Christ.

We note that G.A. Studdert-Kennedy was a pastor in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was also a poet of renown. His heart was burdened about the spiritual indifference of people in his area, and he wrote this poem:

When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged Him on a tree,
They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed Him by,
They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do,"
And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
As Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

Donald E. Wildmon, after quoting that poem, made this comment: "No, we don't spit in His face. We don't stab a sword into His side. We don't stand and mock Him. We don't do any of those things. We simply ignore him." Sad--but true.

But now, having considered the room denied, look with me at...

II. The Blessing Missed

A. Missed Then

As I indicated at the outset, we have no way of knowing what was in that inn-keeper's mind and heart when he denied a room to Joseph, Mary, and the unborn Christ child--but whatever the circumstances involved, just think of the blessing that inn-keeper missed.

One of the most familiar of all Christmas scenes is that of the manger in which the little Christ child was laid. Through the years artists have portrayed that scene as they have imagined it. Each of us can readily visualize it--the straw on which the baby Jesus lay, the rough-hewn wooden beams of the stable, the animals nearby, and the star-studded sky overhead. But, had the inn-keeper made room for Joseph and Mary and Jesus, it might be an altogether different picture. We might be singing such songs as "Away in an Inn, With a crib for a bed, The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head." At Christmas time people by the millions might be buying and assembling small replicas of a quaint little inn, rather than replicas of a stable containing a manger. A favorite character of artists in their portrayals of that first Christmas might be a kindly, compassionate inn-keeper, standing outside the room of Joseph, Mary, and the newborn Christ child, waiting to render any possible service.

But that's not how it happened--because "there was no room for them in the inn."

B. Missed Now

1. By Our Nation

Our country is missing a multitude of blessings because of shutting Jesus out of our national life. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and that is as it should be, but too many politicians and judges interpret that to mean freedom from religion. Psalm 33:12 says, "Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." It would also be correct, and in line with the Bible, to say, "Woe to that nation which has no room for Jesus!"

It's refreshing to occasionally hear comments that show some sanity. I don't know much about the economist, Ben Stein, but I very much appreciate some statements he made recently on national television. Here are some excerpts from what he said:

"I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful, lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

"It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of the year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a church, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

"I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheistic country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat."

Stein refers to some comments Billy Graham's daughter made during a TV interview. In regard to some terrible tragedy which had occurred, the interviewer asked, "How could God let something like this happen?" Anne Graham said, "I believe God is saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

Ben Stein continued then:

"I think it all started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare...complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

"Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

"Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace."

2. By The Unsaved

Yes, that inn-keeper missed a tremendous, one-time-only blessing. But think of the blessings missed by people today who refuse to make room for Jesus in their lives. Those who fail to repent and by faith receive him as Lord and Savior miss being forgiven of their sins; they miss having a sense of purpose and fulfillment; they miss having access to his grace for victorious daily living; and they miss heaven when they die, and go instead to eternal hell.

3. By Distracted Believers

Those who have been saved, yet get so busy here and there that they don't make room for Jesus in their daily lives, also miss out on great blessings. They miss the uplifting sense of his presence. They miss out on the spiritual power that only comes to those believers who faithfully serve and worship him, and who read the Bible and pray daily. They miss out on that inward peace which is present only in the lives of those who live by his standards, and who unashamedly take a firm stand for him. And they miss out on some heavenly rewards--rewards that would have been theirs had they been diligent and obedient in their daily walk. Furthermore, in this life the disobedient believer will experience God's chastisement.


In the 1966 issue of Guideposts magazine there appeared a story by Dina Donahue.
She said that whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little Midwestern town, someone is sure to mention the name of Wally Purling. She said that Wally's performance in that little town's annual performance of the Nativity play had become legend, and that the old-timers who had been in the audience that night never tired of recalling exactly what happened.

Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth--but Wally was slow and had difficulty keeping up. He was big and rather clumsy, too, but he was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he. But even though they liked him, it would irritate them when Wally would want to play ball with them, or to participate in any game where winning was important--and they would usually find a way to keep him out.

Wally would hang around anyway, though--not sulking, just hoping. He nearly always had a smile, and was always anxious to help any of his classmates, regardless of how they treated him. He looked out for the underdog. Sometimes, if the older boys chased the younger ones away, Wally would say, "Can't they stay? They're no bother."

Wally had his heart set on being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year. However, the play's director, Miss Lumbard, felt that she needed to give Wally a part with not too many lines to learn, so she told Wally that she was giving him an important role--that of the Innkeeper. She also felt that Wally's size would lend forcefulness to his refusal of a room to Joseph.

A huge crowd gathered that night to see all of the children in their various costumes, with all of the extravagant props. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of that night than Wally Purling. In fact, as he stood in the wings he was so fascinated with the drama that Miss Lumbard had to watch carefully to be sure he didn't wander on-stage before his cue.

But then came the time when Joseph appeared, slowly and tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the inn-keeper, swinging the door open, responded at that point just as he had been told--brusquely he said, "What do you want?"

Joseph answered, "We seek lodging." Looking straight ahead, Wally spoke awkwardly but vigorously. He said, "Seek it elsewhere. The Inn is filled."

Joseph said, "Sir, we have asked in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary." But again, Wally looked properly stern and said, "There is no room in this inn for you."

Now Joseph was pleading. He said, "Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired."

At that point, for the first time the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. There was a long pause--long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

The prompter whispered from the wings, "No! Begone!" Stiffly and somewhat automatically, Wally repeated the words: "No! Begone."

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, she laid her head on his shoulder and the two of them started to move away. But Wally the Innkeeper didn't follow the script at that point. He didn't go back inside his Inn. Rather, he stood there in the doorway watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow furrowed with concern, and there were tears in his eyes.

And suddenly that Christmas pageant became different from all the others. Wally called out, "Don't go, Joseph! Bring Mary back!" And as a big, bright smile creased his face, Wally said, "You can have my room."

Some people in the audience thought that the pageant had been ruined. But many, many others felt it was the most meaningful and heart-warming of all the Christmas pageants they had ever seen.

Have you made room for Jesus in your heart? In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." I challenge you to let these words of the hymn writer be your response to him this very hour:

Thou didst leave Thy throne And Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, There is room in my heart for Thee.

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