Ugly sweater parties. Dirty Santa. Gift shopping. Decking the halls. Family gatherings. Our calendars are certainly full this time of year, but does busyness on the calendar equate to fullness in our heart? I am not condemning any of these activities, but if Christmas turns into this vague, commercialized holiday, we can easily lose sight of why we should rejoice during the Christmas season. The irony of Christmas is that we have intentions to reflect upon Christ’s birth but may have the least amount of time to do so. If we are not careful, those events that we participate in can rob us of the very reason for our rejoicing.
We find the story of Jesus’ birth, the reason to rejoice, in Luke 2:1-7. Caesar Augustus declared a census to be taken. This meant Mary and Joseph would have to travel back to Bethlehem to register for the census. As Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, Jesus would be born (v. 6). Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling cloths and put in a manger (v. 7). This section of Luke describes to us the fulfillment of prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). This prophecy uttered centuries before was fulfilled, and Jesus Christ would be born to save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21). The timing of Caesar’s decree and Jesus’ birth were all within the purview of God’s providence. Not only is God over history, but he is over the particular events that take place.
We try to replicate this event with our nativity scenes that often look so peaceful with a nicely swept floor and perfect square bales of hay, in a roomy stable, but let us not lose sight of the fact that this was a real birth. A real birth with real pain and tears, all amidst the smell of animals and their manure. As the Son of God came in the lowliest and humble of estates, we are reminded that “Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).” As we sing in the famous Christmas song Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate deity…Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die.” The Son of God in human form, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).
The birth of Christ is not a story to produce sentiment. It tells us about God executing his plan of redemption by sending His Son into the world to live a perfectly righteous life, to die in the place of sinners, and resurrect from the grave. The babe born with his arms restricted in swaddling cloth and laid in a lowly manger of wood would soon have his arms stretched out and nailed to a piece of wood, dying a criminal’s death on the cross so all who would trust in Him alone could be reconciled to God and forgiven of their sin.
Yet the question remains, “Why was Jesus in a manger?” Luke tells us in verse 7, “because there was no place for them in the inn.” Bethlehem was busy during this time because of the census. The busyness of Bethlehem crowded out Jesus.
In our culture, the most wonderful time of the year can also become the most stressful time of the year. We can become so busy in our hearts, that just like Bethlehem, we cannot make room for Jesus. As the innkeeper of your own heart, you should ask yourself the question, “Am I making room for Christ?”
Oh, our hearts, as busy as Bethlehem
Hear Him knock, don’t say there’s no room in the inn
Through the cradle, cross, and grave
See the love of God displayed
Now He’s risen and He reigns
Praise the Name above all names!
As you prepare for Christmas around the house and under the tree, would you also slow down and prepare your heart to make room for Jesus?
Even when the lights, wreaths, and the mistletoe are put away, once the trees are taken down, the festive music stops playing, and seasonal candy ceases, the church of Jesus Christ still has something to celebrate! For when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal 4:4). We have all the reason to rejoice because the King has come and entered the world. Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Receive your King and let every heart prepare Him room!
Enjoy and worship along with our music team as they sing “Prepare Him Room.”
 “Prepare Him Room.” Sovereign Grace Music, 2014.
*This article was originally published in the 2019 Chatham News and Record Christmas Editorial