Last year, after reading that Jesus may have been born in a kinsman’s house, I was inspired to come up with a new Christmas drama. Eventually the monologue would be entitled Make Room for Jesus, and would include an original song composed by a friend. The presentation debuted on November 29, 2020.
Why do many Bible scholars believe that Jesus was born in a relative’s home, and not a lonely stable on the outskirts of town?
The word that the Gospel of Luke uses for “inn” in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is different than the one he uses in the Christmas story. In Luke 2:7, he is actually describing a guest-chamber – not a commercial place of lodging. Some versions of the Bible, including the NIV, have translated this verse, “She (Mary) wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
These guest chambers were usually located on the second floor of ancient Middle Eastern homes. In fact, Jesus used the same word when he instructed his disciples to prepare the Passover meal in the upper room of a house (Luke 22:11).
The theory is that the upper rooms were packed with kinsmen on the night of Jesus’ birth. Recall that the Roman emperor had ordered a census, an
d everyone had to return to the city of their ancestors to be counted. It is probable that Joseph and Mary arrived at a relative’s home to stay, but the guest chambers were already filled. The only place to lay their heads was in an animal pen at the back of the house. These spaces were quite common in ancient Israel. Families would bring in their livestock at night to prevent thievery or biting cold.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter where Jesus was born – it only matters that He was born. Whether His nativity occurred in a cave, barn or home, He came for a purpose: to live and die humbly, for all of us.
His arrival was something none of us would have planned. If humans had been in charge of the first Christmas, we would have festooned the stable with meteor shower lights, hung tacky decorations on the wall, and given presents to each other while drinking eggnog and noshing on ham (which would have been ironic in the presence of Jewish parents and shepherds).
Instead, Jesus was born of a peasant woman, laid in a feeding trough for animals, and visited by smelly sheep-herders, who were outcasts of their culture. This is important. The God of the Cosmos came to us as a helpless child, born in the most ignoble of circumstances. As the Representative Human, He set the tone for all of us – our lives should be humble, gentle, and submissive to God. Those who use Jesus for selfish political or financial ends will, in the end, be severely disappointed. He came not to make us rich or powerful, but to reconcile us and make us agents of reconciliation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Have you made room for Jesus? Doing so will craft your heart into a home, a permanent dwelling where He will live to fashion you into what you were created to be: like Him.