I believe everything that is included in the Bible is intentional. From the most obscure family name to the most familiar and beloved passages of scripture, I believe there is purpose behind each reference. So, when Luke 2:7 says that Mary gave birth to her first-born son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger because there was “no room for them in the inn,” my antennae go up.
Why does it matter if Mary and Joseph couldn’t book a room at the Holiday Inn on the night Jesus was born? What is so important about that tidbit of information that centuries later we need to know there was no place for them?
When a writer uses foreshadowing, he or she is including subtle information to heighten the dramatic impact of what’s to come. In The Wizard of Oz, the entire black and white introduction foreshadows what is to come during the rest of the movie. After Dorothy is knocked unconscious in Kansas, she “wakes up” in the land of Oz. When she realizes that her house has just landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy’s predicament instantly morphs into a catastrophe. Using foreshadowing, the writer has tipped off the audience that Miss Gulch’s ugly threats to Dorothy and Toto will be on horrible replay through the character of the Wicked Witch of the West.
The Bible is full of foreshadowing moments and passages. Perhaps the earliest and most “famous” one is found in Genesis 3:15. God is speaking to Satan after he has incited Adam and Eve to sin. As God pronounces Satan’s punishment, he predicts the coming of Jesus and Jesus’ ultimate triumph when he says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Basically, Satan has been put on notice that God will be “dropping a house” on his head and he will be destroyed. All of the rest of scripture, including the book of Revelation, is the record of how that comes to pass.
So, back to Mary and Joseph and the imminent birth of God’s Son in Luke, chapter two. It’s such a familiar story that I sometimes forget to stop and read – really read the words in front of me and consider their implication…
“…She wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn…” The word “manger” used in this verse could also refer to an animal’s feeding trough commonly hewn out of stone.
When Mary wrapped her new baby in cloth to put him in that stone feeding box, she was foreshadowing the moment in Mark 15:46 when Joseph of Arimathea would take Jesus’ body off the cross, wrap him in cloth and once again lay him in a place hewn out of stone.
“…There was no room for them in the inn…”
Every time I hear that phrase, my mind imagines an angry innkeeper roused out of bed long after midnight at Joseph’s insistent knocking. Once to the door, the grouchy, sleep-deprived innkeeper points to the “no vacancy” sign posted in the window and slams the door in Joseph’s face.
I don’t think that’s the point. Implicating a real or imagined innkeeper because he didn’t offer an expectant mother a room, misses the point of why it matters that there was “no room” for Jesus in the first place. I think it’s God’s way of tipping off the reader that there’s something “other-than” and unique about his only Son’s arrival on earth – something we need to be watching for.
Because of God’s great love for humanity, Jesus was dispatched to earth to restore mankind’s relationship with God. Jesus was not from here, he never came to stay, and he never came to put down roots. Jesus came to earth for the sole purpose of doing his Father’s will, and that will was to provide salvation for all of humanity. God’s “provision” of salvation for all of us would require Jesus’ death.
Jesus lived to die.
Myrrh, the last gift of the magi was an expensive spice used to anoint the dead…
…his birth foreshadowed his death.
Jesus lived simply – he didn’t need houses and land.
“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…’”
…his life foreshadowed simplicity.
Jesus lived and died as the King of Kings.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said to Pilate during his trial, “If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm…”
…surrendering himself to earthly authorities foreshadowed his own supreme authority.
Jesus lived his earthly life in light of eternal value.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…”
…his priorities foreshadowed his eternal treasure in us.
There was no room for them in the inn.
This Christmas as I think about the fact that there was no room for Mary and Joseph when they arrived in Bethlehem, my prayer is that the reality of their situation will remind me to always make room in my heart, life, and spirit for Jesus.
Years ago, Christian singer, Evie Tornquist-Karlsson, recorded a song entitled, No Room/Have You Any Room for Jesus. Every year around Christmastime this simple song returns to remind me to guard my relationship with Jesus. Sometimes I get so busy, anxious, or preoccupied that I crowd him out, but that’s not what I desire. What I really want is for there always to be room for Jesus to move in me, speak through me, and use me in the lives of others. To do that, I have to be intentional about allowing him space.
My prayer for you this year is that you, too, will have room for Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus, I can’t think of a better time of year than Christmas for you to get to know him better. May this be the year when the foreshadowing of Isaiah 61, the foreshadowing of Christmas breaks through in your life!
Speaking about Jesus, the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” Isaiah 61:1-2
Let this be the year Jesus finds room in your heart for him. Let this be the year for your freedom…Jesus lived and died to set you free!
No Room/Have you Any Room for Jesus? by Evie
© Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.