Making Room For Jesus
A Christmas meditation by Rev. A. Charles Allen
A brief history of Jesus’ birthplace and home can help us understand the meaning of Christmas.
He was born in Bethlehem but lived in Nazareth. The name Bethlehem first occurs in I Samuel 16:4. It is the town where the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to replace Saul. That son was David. Micah, one of the four great prophets in the eighth century b.c., said that a new David would arise from Bethlehem to rule in a future age (Micah 5:2).
Nazareth was an obscure agricultural village in southern Galilee, not even mentioned in Hebrew Scriptures, in the Talmud, or by the Jewish historian Josephus. Joseph, a carpenter by trade, may have settled in Nazareth, near Sepphoris where Herod Antipas was reconstructing his capital.
During his public ministry, Jesus visited Nazareth only a few times. He was not cordially received there, perhaps because of the outrage he caused in the local synagogue when he declared that he was the fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 4: 16-27).
Both towns would likely be no more than footnotes in the margins of history were it not for the extraordinary events that happened there.
His birth is the most glorious event that Heaven has ever witnessed. An angel proclaimed the glad tiding. A choir of angels sang celestial music praising God. A bright star guided some wise men from the East to find Jesus and bring gifts to him. A small group of shepherds heard the angels’ sermon and believed it. The birth of Jesus changed the whole course of human history.
But of despite all that God has provided for us in time and eternity, vast multitudes will celebrate Christmas without Christ. This will be true for millions who have never heard the story of Jesus, and sadly for many who have heard, but for one reason or another have failed to believe in the miraculous birth. Many who call themselves Christians will be the least Christian during Christmas. They will prepare elaborate feasts, and then shut the door in face of the Guest of Honor, Christ.
The innkeeper shut the door on Joseph and his young wife because there was no room in the inn, or so he said. Why do so many people not make room for Jesus? There are many possible reasons.
First, some fail to make room for Jesus because they are not expecting him. This is the case of multitudes today. They see the story of his birth and death as ancient history, and they have lost their expectancy of Jesus coming back, even if at one time they believed he would.
Second, some shut the door in the face of Jesus because they do not recognize him. I do not know in what guise the Lord will knock at your door (and mine) this Christmas season. In some fashion, he is sure to come.
Third, still others do not open the door because they do not want him. This is certainly the case for many people. They desire Jesus as a guest if they could have him on their own terms. To them Jesus is an embarrassment.
What guest will you entertain this Christmas? If we are expecting him, we will likely recognize him. If we accept him on his terms, as Son of God, as Lord and giver of Life, as light of the world, as a pouring out of God’s love for all, we will know the wonder of Christmas.
May you have the spirit of Christmas that brings peace of mind, a song in the heart, and a spirit of giving.
The Rev. A. Charles Allen serves as spiritual advisor to the Policy Committee on the TDI Secretariat.