“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 (KJV)
As they walked the dusty road, steep hills and low valleys, did Mary and Joseph share their worries aloud, or did they travel silently, feigning that their faith in God was solid? They were human, after all. And humans doubt. Did Mary wonder, have we done the right thing? Surely, God wouldn’t want His son born in a small and ordinary town. Certainly, He would want Him to enter the world in a place fit for a king. There was nothing kingly about Bethlehem.
When they arrived there, the place teemed with travelers who, like Mary and Joseph, had come to be counted. Where would the young couple stay? Did they have relatives in Bethlehem? If so, would they want Mary in their home, a woman who had become pregnant before marriage? We can only imagine the thoughts that Mary was thinking as she and Joseph wandered through the city among the crowds.
The Bible says that there was no room for them in the inn. Bible scholars translate this in different ways, but the consensus is that there was no space for them in the guest room. Whose guest room? It doesn’t matter. Wherever they went in Bethlehem, whether to family, friends, or a traditional inn, there was no space for them to stay. So they found lodging in an area where animals were kept, a place with a manger. And this place was the next piece of God’s Christmas puzzle. Christ the Savior was to be born in the simplest of settings, and his bed would be a lowly manger.
As Mary and Joseph waited, hours or days, for the child to be born, did they doubt that they were in the right place, that they had done the right thing according to God’s will? They were in a stable and not in a palace or a temple fit for the birth of the King.
There is that old adage that goes, “God works in mysterious ways.” Usually, those ways are not what we expect. God moves easily and quietly, assembling the pieces of His plan in ways that we cannot understand. That first Christmas in Bethlehem was set in simplicity, and not grandeur. Yet, God was there—fully, totally, completely.
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in they dark streets shineth
The everlasting light . . .
Mary, did you know?
Is your Christmas set in the stillness of simplicity, or are you trying to make it fit for a king?