A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 22; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 148 through 154
The story of Jesus’ birth. Everyone knows it. Even those who have never darkened the door of a church. Even those who try their best to get rid of the nativities in public places and change Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays. Mention “no room at the inn” and people’s first thought is that night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
I think we often get the wrong picture of that night, though. I love the story Randy Frazee tells of an elementary school preparing a Christmas pageant for parents. It makes me think about how God would really like us to respond and how we too often respond instead. Here’s the story Randy tells in his book, “The Heart of the Story.”
“...All the important parts were given to the important parts were given to the brightest students. The smartest girl was chosen to be Mary; the smartest boy played Joseph. The next smartest group played the three kings, the angels, and the shepherds.
“There was only one part no one wanted: the innkeeper. Who wanted to be the bad guy who turned Mary and Joseph away? They gave the part to a boy who was a little slower than the others but had a big heart.
“As the day for the big pageant approached, the boy playing the innkeeper began to worry. He couldn’t imagine telling Mary and Joseph there was no room in the inn. What was he going to do?
“Finally, it was curtain time. Parents, relatives, and friends packed the auditorium. They proudly watched the story unfold as their children skillfully carried out their important roles. Meanwhile, the innkeeper grew more and more anxious. The pressure mounted as Mary and Joseph approached. He didn’t know what to do, but somehow he caught a brief glimpse of the Upper Story.
“When Mary and Joseph knocked, the scruffy little innkeeper threw open the door and shouted with a big smile, “Come on in. I’ve been expecting you.” With that the crowd cheered and clapped and the play came to an end.”
Don’t you think that’s really what God has in mind when He shows up? The wait is over. The prophecies are fulfilled. God bursts on the scene in a way no one expected. He used the lower story in some amazing ways to fulfill His upper story. Caesar demanding the census be conducted in each person’s town of their lineage. Bethlehem was just a little village. David left there to build Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom, remember? And born in poverty in what a family that would be shunned because of the circumstances of His birth. Who would believe Mary had been faithful to her husband Joseph when Jesus came early? She could have been stoned. All the bad things that a family could endure, that family endured. The fateful trip to Bethlehem. The escape to Egypt. Life in the gang filled town of Nazareth. The early death of Joseph, the family breadwinner.
God, by coming to earth in the form of a baby, experienced every single part of life we experience from birth to death. Most of His experiences came from the worst society had to offer. I think He did that on purpose. He didn’t want anyone to say He doesn’t know what we’re going through. He has experienced it all. But stayed true to His Father and His mission to redeem us.
The Jews were looking for a king, not a baby. God came to dwell with us. To live among us. To experience every part of life we experience. He felt all those joys and sorrows that come with living on the wrong side of the street. He knew the heartache that comes from the gossip and slander that launched toward Mary and her firstborn. He knew the grief that comes from the death of those closest to you. He knew the pain of misunderstanding from those around Him, even His own brothers and sisters.
Jesus lived among us, experiencing the life we live everyday. Until Jesus was thirty, he went to work in the carpenter shop every day. He paid excessive taxes to the Romans on the wages He earned. He probably carried some of the soldiers’ packs when He was pressed into service as He walked down the road.
His life was never an easy one. I expect the flowing white robes we see Him wearing in all those pictures and paintings on the walls were not part of His ensemble. I expect He really just had a couple of worn out rags from the local thrift store to wear. I expect the softest bed He ever slept in was that bed of straw in the manger in the cave where He was born. After that, maybe a blanket on the dirt floor or a straw mat on that dirt floor when he was older. Jesus’ life was a hard one that none of us would want to swap.
Yet, like the innkeeper in the elementary school pageant, God wants us to invite Him in when He knocks on the door. He has great things planned for us in His upper story if we will just trust Him and let Him lead the way. We don’t need to worry because He has already experienced this life from beginning to end and knows all about it. He can take us through it and give us peace and joy despite the circumstances we face each day.
How about changing your view of the innkeeper and emulate the new role model when God knocks. Swing the door wide, smile big, and answer, “Come on in. I’ve been expecting you.”
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.