Making Room for Jesus (Luke 2:7; 22:11)

It says in the Gospel of Luke 2:7 that “there was no room in the inn” for Mary and Joseph to stay and eventually have the baby Jesus. The word from the Greek for “inn” is kataluma which could mean inn or guesthouse or family living room. Since Bethlehem was a small town and off the beaten path, chances are there were not a bunch of inns. Most of the time when people were traveling through they would bunk with family – after all, due to the census, Joseph came from that neck of the woods and would inevitably have close family living there. Whether it was a hotel with no vacancy or a home of shirttail relatives that are just too full with out-of-towners who arrived earlier for the census, Jesus and company were settled in with the livestock downstairs. I think it is interesting though that this word kataluma is used in only one other place – the guest room rented by the disciples for the Passover. Since an inn usually goes with another word (pandokion) in Luke 10 for the story of the Good Samaritan who dropped off the injured man at a hotel, and the kataluma is where Jesus has His Passover, I think its safe to say the nativity story is more about an inconvenient place to put up Jesus’ parents in the homes of relatives.

Two things I want to get from this passage as we understand the words used behind it. First is that kataluma bookends the story of Jesus’ life. Family doesn’t have room for him in the beginning, and so there is no room for him there. Again, at the end of his life he must rent someone else’s kataluma but at least he is there with his friends, the disciples. He may begin in the garage but he ends in the living room.

Which leads me to a thought to ponder: Are you making room for Jesus? Where will you let him stay in your life? Does he get the living room, or the basement? Can he sit and eat at your table, or does he get to sleep on the table of your grazing goats? Do you let him into “your crib” or is he relegated to the corn-crib because you just can’t be inconvenienced by him?

Jesus’ entry into this world was inconvenient. It was messy. It was lousy timing. He had to come at that time, when everyone was coming over from out-of-town because of the census and we just don’t have everything decent and in order. Of all the times for the divine to show up! I wonder if anyone from upstairs came down to see that babe that night the shepherds paid a visit. Maybe they were tired from tending to the other people they were putting up (or rather putting up with). And you can’t just have a baby in the living room – totally not sanitary nor a joy for the rest of the family to be a part of. Why, to soil the good linens with the divine blood of the baby king is unthinkable. Why not use the straw – the goats wont mind, they’re dirty creatures anyway. And then Mary can have some peace.

Jesus’ entry in the world, and yes, into our hearts is usually inconvenient. Yup, it is messy too. And boy does God need to work on timing. I think that every time I pray. But Paul reminds us, “but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, under the law.” (Gal 4:4). Next time God knocks, think twice — are you going to offer him the livestock or the living room? Too busy right now? Too complicated? Don’t miss your opportunity. You never know how he may change you and through you the lives of so many. Just like good ‘ole Zacchaeus, don’t miss the invitation of Christ, “hurry and come on down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Lk 19:5).

Make room for Jesus. In all its mess, inconvenience and lousy timing is a blessing beyond your sacrifice.

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