This is part 4 of 5 in the The Story of Christmas from the People Who Were Actually There sermonlink series. Find this and other pursueGOD.org sermons on YouTube here.
What do you focus on at Christmas? Most of us are focused on buying presents, attending parties, and trying to get things at work finished by the end of the year. There’s a good chance that you might spend so much time focusing on all this stuff at Christmas that you miss the main point of the holiday: Jesus Christ. What’s amazing is that the same thing happened on the first Christmas:
Luke 2:7 (ESV) Because there was no place for them in the inn.
You’ve probably heard the story before. Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem because of a Roman census. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the town was packed and they couldn’t find anywhere to stay. An innkeeper sent them away because there was no place for them at the local motel.
Although that’s the typical way the story is told, that’s not necessarily what happened. The word translated “inn” can also refer to the upper, finished room of a house. If this is what Luke means, then the innkeeper was actually a relative of Joseph. He didn’t have any place for Joseph and Mary to stay upstairs so they had to stay in the cold, unfinished lower part of the house where the animals would be. No matter the details, the innkeeper teaches us some important lessons that we need to remember at Christmas.
It’s Easy to Miss Jesus
If the innkeeper had understood who Jesus was, then he would have made different arrangements. He would have kicked out some of his other guests to make room for the savior of the world. We can make the same mistake as the innkeeper. We see Jesus all over the place during Christmas: on cards, on wrapping paper, in carols, and in nativity scenes. But do we understand who Jesus really is? He is God in the flesh. He is the savior of the world. It’s easy to miss Jesus because we don’t expect God to arrive as a baby, born to a poor family in some obscure part of the earth. Yet, this is what actually happened.
It’s Tempting to Dismiss Jesus
The innkeeper turned away Jesus. He didn’t want to be bothered to make room for him. We can push away Jesus too. There’s a chance that you might recognize that there is something special about Jesus. You might carefully read the Christmas story, and you might sense that Jesus is really who everyone says he is. And that’s a scary thought. If Jesus is really God and Lord, then that means you have to listen to him. It means that Jesus is going to require you to change your priorities and plans for your life. Although that sounds scary, it’s really the best thing for you. Jesus came to give you a life of joy and purpose.
It’s Common to Be Too Preoccupied for Jesus
At the first Christmas, there was literally no room for Jesus. And it has been the same way every Christmas since. We are so busy at Christmas that even as you read this you are probably thinking of all the things you need to be doing. And you probably don’t think that you have any time for Jesus in your life. The problem, however, isn’t that you don’t have room for Jesus. It’s that you haven’t made room for Jesus. In order to experience the power of Jesus in your life, you need to make room for him. This means you have to make time to hear him by reading the Bible, worshipping him at church, and learning about him with others. The reality is that if you need to make room for anything in your life, it’s Jesus!
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- Do you feel closer to God during the holidays or more disconnected from him? Why do you think that is?
- Read Luke 2:1-7. What are you some of the excuses that the innkeeper would have given for not making room for Jesus?
- How does the familiarity of the Christmas story make it hard for us to be challenged by its message?
- What are some excuses that we might offer for not growing closer to God at Christmas?
- Read Luke 2:11. How would you explain to someone who isn’t familiar with the Christmas story that Jesus is “Savior,” “Messiah,” and “Lord”?
- Have you ever felt threatened by God’s demand on your life? Explain.
- What’s some new thing that you’ve made room for in your life in the last year? What did you have to give up in order to fit it in?
- Read Revelation 3:20. What does this verse teach us about Jesus? What does it say about God’s attitude toward us?
- What do you need to do in order to make room for Jesus over the next month?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.