“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 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 2:4-7)
If you went back to your hometown where near or distant relatives lived, would you have to get a room at a hotel? Now some of us might choose to get a room, but would you have to? Or do you have family and friends in your hometown that would be delighted to put you up while you visited. In fact, most would insist you stayed with them.
So why didn’t Joseph have somewhere to stay? Why did he have to go to the inn, only to find a no vacancy sign? The innkeeper was kind enough to allow Joseph and Mary to stay in their manger, but I can’t imagine these soon-to-be parents planning on their child, much less the Son of God, to be born in a barn. As parents we usually have higher expectations for our children. As Mark Harris of 4Him sings in their epic song, “But this is a strange way to save the world.”
One thing every Christian will experience, and some will actually learn from, is that God doesn’t work in what we would describe as logical ways. God’s providence can at times seem so strange to us. Nevertheless, we should never be surprised by this because the Prophet Isaiah, while exhorting us to seek the Lord, reminded us of the our Heavenly Father’s words:
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
In every instance of Jesus’ life recorded in Scripture, there is a lesson to be learned. My pastor taught me that the “shame “of Mary’s pregnancy no doubt made it impossible for Joseph and her to stay with family or friends. I also turned to our old friend Matthew Henry to see what he had written of Jesus’ birthplace:
“The circumstances of His birth were very mean. Christ was born at an inn; He came into the world to sojourn here for awhile, as at an inn, and to teach us to do likewise. We are become by sin like an outcast infant, helpless and forlorn; and such a one was Christ. He well knew how unwilling we are to be meanly lodged, clothed, or fed; how we desire to have our children decorated and indulged; how apt the poor are to envy the rich, and how prone the rich are to disdain the poor. But when we by faith view the Son of God being made man and lying in a manger, our vanity, ambition, and envy are checked. We cannot, with this object rightly before us, seek great things for ourselves or our children.”
Every parent wants their children to have a better station in life than they have and to learn from their mistakes. We so desire to spare our children from sorrow and suffering that we can be guilty of enabling their bad behavior. Even if our children go through tough times, and they will, we want to lessen the blow as much as we can. And yet we must understand that God is working in their lives to bring them to greater faith. Wisdom is gathered in the journey, not the destination.
As Christians, we must come to the point in our walks with Christ that we realize that even though we might not understand God’s purpose for our lives, His perfect will is always the best path. We have to stop avoiding the tough terrain in front of us, choosing the freeway of ease and ending up in the wrong destination. We have to embrace the truth of which the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
One of these days I’ll learn that my Heavenly Father loves me more than I do and has a greater abundant life for me than I could ever accumulate.
One of these days I’ll stop seeking great things for myself and stop and discover the great things the Lord has already placed in my life.
As long as I’m with the Lord, I am where I need to be, even if it means being where I never imagined I’d be.
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Copyright © 2014 David Jeffers