• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

The Inn – A Type of Men’s Heart’s

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

I met someone the other day who said she was a recluse, because all people are undependable, untrustworthy, and selfish. She said she could do selfish all by herself and she didn’t need the disappointment of dealing with people who don’t keep their word and are just out for what they can get. I felt a sadness for her because she was seeing the world through a grid of encounters with, most likely, a very few people and from those experiences she determined that was the way the entire world lived.

When I tried to assure her that her perspective was skewed, she sternly disagreed with me. When I pointed to myself as an example of one who was not like the people she described she said, “Well you’re the exception.”

Surely I am not unique in the world in this regard, I tried to assure her.

There are many who have chosen to live in and for the will of God and walk in His righteousness to the best of their human ability. We all stumble and we all fail from time to time and miss the mark but we are not all sold out to the ways of the world.

There are times, however, when our plates are full and even the good that we would do goes undone because there is just no room on our plates for more. In order to make room for another “good thing” we would need to remove some other “good things” from our plates to make room for another “good thing.”

The Inn, I believe, was such a place. By the time Mary and Joseph arrived others were already occupying every available room. What was the Innkeeper to do? Throw out paid guests to accommodate another one. That would not be fair or ethical. So, he did the best he could to provide a space for them, meager and removed though it was from the best and most comfortable spaces in his Inn.

Yet, there was one other more selfless and accommodating thing he could have done. He could have given them his room, his comfortable warm space for the night. He could have made a personal sacrifice for the sake of the young mother, great with child.

I think it is also interesting that the Bible mentions only one Inn in this entire town of Bethlehem. Now Bethlehem was and remains to this day a very small city and perhaps there was indeed only one Inn to serve the entire town. In any case it becomes a perfect metaphor for the hearts of men. We have only one heart and there are many things vying to take up residency in it. Some legitimate, like our children, our spouses, our jobs/professions, our ministries, and some less so, like our pleasures, our wants and so on.

But when Jesus comes knocking, wanting to gain entrance and find a place, there is no room because we have filled every available space with other things, some noble some ignoble, some beneficial and some detrimental.

What can we do? Simply this, we can make room for Him in those places in our hearts we’ve reserved for ourselves, so that when He comes in, He will help us, by His presence in us, to determine what things should remain and what things we need to remove. Indeed we are ultimately commanded to love the Lord with all our heart.

There is a room in the “Inn” of our hearts if we are willing to yield it, to the Babe born to save us all from sin and death, the Babe born to take away the sins of the world, born to give us second birth, a birth into eternal life.

Here is Charles Wesley’s original version of the popular Christmas Hymn.

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

Hark! the herald angels sing,

"Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!"

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With the angelic host proclaim,

"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

Hark! the herald angels sing,

"Glory to the newborn King."

Christ, by highest heaven adored;

Christ, the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold Him come,

Offspring of the Virgin's womb:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail the incarnate Deity,

Pleased as man with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

"Glory to the newborn King."

Hail, the heaven born Prince of Peace!

Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

"Glory to the newborn King."

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788;

Music: Felix Mendelssohn; arr. by William H. Cummings


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