Part of the Story
Seems like everyone wants to be a part of the story of Jesus’ birth at this time of year. A flurry of activity filled with plays, music performances, Nativity reenactments, and stories galore, fills our days and nights. As I pondered this fact, I thought about those who were part of the original story of our Savior’s birth. I reflected on the innkeeper, the shepherds, and Joseph.
The Innkeeper’s Part of the Story
Have you ever wondered how the innkeeper felt when he told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them in his inn?
When I was young, I thought the innkeeper was rather mean to turn them away. I wondered why he couldn’t squeeze them in somehow. Move things around. Make room in his crowded inn, and crowded life, for them to stay until Mary gave birth and recovered.
I doubt the man was truly mean. He was probably occupied with all the busyness that surrounded him, as he ran his overflowing inn and accommodated his patrons. It may be, he just could not handle two more people and a soon-to-be-born infant.
I’ve often wondered if the innkeeper regretted his decision once the multitude of angels’ voices filled the night sky above his stable. Did he pause to consider what all the hub-bub was about? Perhaps he searched his memory back to the scriptures he learned as a child, promising the Messiah would be born in the city of David.
Any Lessons We Might Learn from the Innkeeper?
As we look at the innkeeper’s story, what can we learn?
Maybe we’ve told Jesus there is no room in our lives for him right now due to our busy schedules. We’re full up. We’re consumed by other things at the moment. It could be we’ve allowed our busyness to leave Jesus out in the cold of night until a more convenient time.
Perhaps the innkeeper’s story is a lesson for us not to turn the Messiah away. If, like the innkeeper’s house, our lives have become crowded and filled with things of this world, it might be time we moved them out of the way so Jesus has a place to stay.
So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant. While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough. Luke 2:4-7 (NCV)
The Shepherds’ Part of the Story
The Bible tells us a multitude of Heavenly Hosts filled the sky the night Jesus Christ was born. We’re told the shepherds were afraid when the angels appeared. I’d be frightened, too, if an army of angels suddenly appeared in the sky. Wouldn’t you?
One of the angels told the shepherds the news he shared was great. He said it would bring unbelievable joy to everyone. This amazing news was the announcement of the long-awaited Savior’s birth. After the angels praised God, they told the shepherds to go see what had happened.
The Shepherds Went
The shepherds left their flock of sheep, their livelihood, and went to Bethlehem. There they found Baby Jesus in a manger.
Before the shepherds headed to Bethlehem, though, they didn’t form a committee to figure out the best way to get there. They didn’t ponder what they should say when they found the baby. And they certainly didn’t vote to see who would lead the way. They simply got up and went.
Once they found the newborn baby, they told Mary and Joseph what the angels said to them in the field. Today your Savior was born…He is Christ, the Lord. After that, the shepherds returned to their sheep, praised, and thanked God.
Any Lessons We Might Learn from the Shepherds?
What if the shepherds didn’t leave the security of their fields and go seek the baby? What if they refused to walk however-many-miles to Bethlehem to search for Jesus? What if they let the day go by without being part of the story of sharing the great news of Christ’s birth?
Like the shepherds, we are given a glorious message to share with the world. Unlike the shepherds, we live this side of the cross. We know what it cost God to send his son into our world to save us from our sins. As we reflect on Christmas and the birth of the baby in the manger who became the Savior on the cross, we too must seek the Messiah. We must go quickly and tell others the Good News of a Savior who came to die for them, too.
When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. Luke 2:15-18 (GNT)
Joseph’s Part of the Story
Joseph, the noblest of men, became part of the story when he accepted God’s plan and became Christ’s earthly father. Yet, he doesn’t get much mention. I find that sad.
The Bible doesn’t give many details about Joseph. We are told he was a righteous man, descended from Abraham and David. He was engaged to Mary. After he learned Mary was pregnant, he decided to break the engagement. That was his right.
According to the religious law at the time, he could have publicly humiliated Mary. He could have even gone so far as to have her stoned to death for her perceived sin and the embarrassment her pregnancy caused him.
Joseph would have none of that. Instead, he decided to divorce Mary quietly. His silence would cover her without any condemnation. I’m sure he understood hurtful, vicious, mean-spirited words and actions would most likely be hurled Mary’s way. He loved her. He refused to add to her pain.
Just as Chosen
Here’s something I hadn’t thought about until recently. Perhaps it’s something you haven’t considered as well. Joseph was just as chosen by God to raise God’s Son as Mary was. Think about that.
God trusted Joseph. He knew Joseph’s character. He knew Joseph’s heart. God knew Joseph was a man who would take care not only of his Son but also of the woman God chose to be his Son’s mother.
Any Lessons We Might Learn from Joseph?
It takes a lot of faith to follow God’s plan when it isn’t what we planned. When Joseph accepted God’s plan for his life, he proved he was up to the challenge right from the start. He was a man who, from what we can tell, took good care of Mary and Jesus. It also seems he wasn’t upset about fading into the background of the greatest story ever told.
As was the case with Joseph, when God calls us to take on a responsibility for him, he’ll empower us through his great love to see it through. I wonder though. Are we willing to fade into the background so God gets the glory and not us?
This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (GNT)
Our Part of the Story
At this time of the year, we may want to be a part of telling the story of Jesus’ birth through plays, concerts, and stories. However, are we as willing to share the story God is writing on our life with those around us?
Telling that story means going beyond the baby in the manger, to the Savior on the cross. It is a story of grace, mercy, love, and redemption. It is the story of a Savior who paid for our sins through his sacrificial death, rose from the grave, ascended to heaven where he sits on his throne, and is coming again.
How are you a part of Jesus’ story? Do you see yourself in any of the people in the list above? If so, which one do you most identify with?
I wish you well.