The Place for Christmas

The Place for Christmas

Although many Christians today say that Jesus Christ is the reason for the season, He is still out of place for many people in all the days of their lives and even during Christmas time. It’s just sad that Christmas is supposed to be all about Jesus, yet people neglect Him because of many concerns, especially for the occasion.

Jesus is knocking into our life but we do not have any room for Him because we are too preoccupied with the things of life. People’s thoughts are full of anxieties, parties, wishes of new material things, food and many other more. But God wants to dwell in us.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to 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, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” 

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Background of the Passage

It was the time when Caesar Augustus wrote a decree that the people should be counted-in in a form of registration, not to where they dwell but rather each to his own home town. At that time, Joseph and Mary were living in Galilee in Nazareth which is about 132km away from Joseph’s hometown, Bethlehem in Judea.

Although Mary was on the verge of delivering baby Jesus, they had to travel in compliance with the decree. There could not be a good reason for the couple to travel to Bethlehem at this point in time, especially when Mary was about to deliver the baby apart from mandatorily complying with the decree

However, this is all in fulfillment of what was prophesied hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus that the ruler of Israel shall come from the clans of Judah in Bethlehem.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2 ESV).

At that time, many people were traveling back to Bethlehem to register and given that Mary was pregnant, they might have taken a slower pace. We could assume that most of the people arrived earlier than they did, such that all the guest rooms in the houses were already crowded with people when they finally arrived.

Why Was Jesus Born in a Manger?

The Bible does not give much detail on the circumstances of the birth of Jesus, perhaps for us to give more attention to the Savior Jesus Christ who was born that night. As to why Mary ended up having baby Jesus laid in a manger rather than on a comfortable warm crib or bed was not explicitly mentioned in the passage.

After all, were they not in Joseph’s hometown where he would have close relatives to welcome and help them out? Did the people just stand from afar watching Mary give birth without extending a helping hand? There are different versions of the Christmas story that we have heard from our childhood which are still popular today.

One version is that they arrived in Bethlehem and no “inn-keeper” was ready to take them in because all rooms were already occupied. No one was ready to give up their own space for an ordinary-looking couple.

Not a single “inn-keeper” was willing to eject anyone in favor of the pregnant couple and so when it was time for Mary to deliver the baby, there was no option other than the place where the animals are kept. Since the birthing place is a stable, then the manger seems to be a reasonable place to lay down the baby.

Another version is that they were already in Bethlehem days before Mary’s time to deliver the baby and since Joseph’s clan (the lineage of David) comes from Bethlehem, they were hosted in a guest room of one of Joseph’s relative’s house.

But because so many people were already there who came before them, the guest room was so crowded that there was not enough space to comfortably deliver the baby with a bit of privacy. This leaves them no other option but the place where the animals are kept. Thus, once again, the stable being the birthing place, makes laying down the baby in a manger reasonable.

There could be so many other versions of the Christmas story within man’s creative imagination but all of them would only agree on what the bible says  “No place”  in the inn and the baby laid in a manger.” The house is full! There was no special treatment, not enough space for Him.

This led to where the delivery could take place other than the comforts and privacy of a room. The birth taking place where the animals are kept makes the manger the safest place for a mother to lay down her baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. What a pitiful sight! Baby Jesus who was and is the Savior of us all, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the beloved Son of God was out of place at the time of His birth. 

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth are not worthy of the Son of God! But all these took place in perfect alignment to the will of God.

God Wants to Dwell in Us

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV).

The best place that we could offer to the Lord is our heart. But what kind of heart does the Lord want to dwell in?

A Humble Heart

But He gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV).

There could never be anything better than having the grace of God dwell in the lowly heart so His promised salvation will be received. Because of God’s grace, the blessing will not only be spiritual but material prosperity in this life.

Our prideful aspirations in life cause us more trouble than light. We can never be self-sufficient for it is only by grace, the undeserving favor we receive from God that all circumstances in our life get into the right place.

Jesus Himself had a humble beginning as we just read in the story of His birth. It is not because He deserves all those things but that He wanted to experience the things that most of us go through; the pain the most of us go through. King as He is, with all humility, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will.

The Place for Christmas

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV).

Being a carpenter’s son, Jesus’ family here on earth may not have been rich materially. But because of His great love for us, He gave up His richness as God by setting aside His glory and was born in flesh as an ordinary man so that through His poverty we can become rich.

Paul here does not only mean our spiritual richness but he was also talking about our prosperity in all things, here on earth! We don’t need to wait until we get to heaven to have a glorious life.

We “might” become rich means we may experience God’s provisions; not only what we need but more so that we will have plenty to share with others (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT).

“Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 NLT).

The incarnation was Jesus’ humble way of getting His mission accomplished here on earth. And if we were to be like Christ, we need to have a humble heart for Him to dwell in.

An Empty Heart

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ESV).

We must be empty so we can be filled! We need to provide a room for Him in our hearts so he can fit in! Our hearts are so populated and polluted by so many things in this life. God and sin cannot co-exist in our hearts. We, therefore, need to empty our hearts of all the heavy loads of sins and invite Jesus to dwell in it.

We need to empty our hearts with our uncleanliness, our filthiness, our anxieties, our worries, our pride, and all the things not pleasing to God. If God can only dwell in a clean heart, let it then always be our prayer and desire that a pure heart be created in us. A clean heart with clean thoughts and good deeds.

No one can do that except through the washing of our sins with the most precious blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in us!

In the same way that God and sin cannot be together, we cannot be cold and warm at the same time. Or else, God won’t reject us (Revelation 3:16 NIV).

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Only those with a pure heart will see and enter the kingdom of God. Having a pure heart means having pure thoughts, pure intentions. Yes, we sin but we do not dwell in sin. We pass through it but we should choose not to stay in it.

“In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21 NLT).

Let us, therefore, get rid of our old heart and keep a pure heart so Jesus can dwell in us and use us for His glory.

An Available Heart

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land (Isaiah 18-19 ESV).

God wants us to respond to His invitation: “Come now and let us talk…let us be clear to one another”. He came to forgive us sins and wash us clean no matter what our past is.

Willingness + Obedience = Availability

God can never use us unless we make our hearts available. All we need is to have an available heart and come to Him. However, we can never escape from God’s call.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Just the same, God invites us to come to Him. So, let us not make excuses and beg off some other time. Let us have an available heart so that Jesus can dwell in us!

“God does not look at your ability; He looks at your availability!”

A Repentant Heart

I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:32 NLT).

Jesus did not come to save the righteous, for no one is righteous. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We only become righteous through faith because of Christ (Romans 5:1). He came to save the sinners … and that means everyone who comes to Him in repentance.

We cannot be friends with God unless we repent and in order to repent, we must, first of all, accept that we have sinned, confess our sins and turn away from them.

God offers forgiveness to those who come to Him with a repentant heart. We have to confess our sins and come with a repentant heart so we can find mercy and that He can dwell in us.

We should not also hide our sins from God (Proverbs 28:13) for He is an omniscient (all-knowing) God. He loves us and He disciplines those whom He loves (Revelation 3:19 NIV).

A Trusting Heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

Jesus is just waiting for us to open up our hearts and put our trust in Him so He can show us which direction we should go. He is looking for a trusting heart so He may dwell in. Seeking His will means submitting our life with a trusting heart. We seek His will to be more like Him and let Him put our life in order.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV).

Trusting is obeying without doubting even if you do not know the reason for it. Faith is believing in something that we do not see. A trusting heart is the best place we can offer Jesus to dwell in not only this Christmas but all the days of our lives.

Summary

The place for Christmas, the best place for Christ to dwell is our H – E – A – R – T.

H – humble Heart

E – empty Heart

A – available Heart

R – repentant Heart

T – trusting Heart

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20 ESV).


Here’s a beautiful Christmas worship song by Paul Baloche called The Newborn King, enjoy singing along!

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