Monday, December 13, 2010

No room in the inn?

As a kid, this phrase seemed like a statement of fact. Lots of people were going to Bethlehem; of course the Inn was full. It was like trying to find a hotel room on the night of the big concert, graduation, or the Indy 500--be early or be out.

As I've been studying Mary with my 2nd-4th grade girls, I realized a few things...
...if both Mary and Joseph were decended from David, the other people in town were their relatives. Mary's mom, mother in law, aunts, cousins...they would have been there.

...a little town, like Bethlehem, wouldn't have had a Hilton or a Marriott or a Best Western. The word for inn, is the same word that is used for guest chamber the other two times it's used:

Inn; Guest-Chamber:

akin to kataluo (see Note above), signifies
(a) "an inn, lodging-place," Luk 2:7;

(b) "a guest-room," Mar 14:14; Luk 22:11. The word lit. signifies "a loosening down" (kata, "down," luo, "to loose"), used of the place where travelers and their beasts untied their packages, girdles and sandals. "In the East, no figure is more invested with chivalry than the guest. In his own right he cannot cross the threshold, but when once he is invited in, all do him honor and unite in rendering service; cp. Gen 18:19; Jdg 19:9, 15." These two passages in the NT "concern a room in a private house, which the owner readily placed at the disposal of Jesus and His disciples for the celebration of the Passover . . . At the festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles the people were commanded to repair to Jerusalem; and it was a boast of the Rabbis that, notwithstanding the enormous crowds, no man could truthfully say to his fellow, 'I have not found a fire where to roast my paschal lamb in Jerusalem,' or 'I have not found a bed in Jerusalem to lie in,' or 'My lodging is too strait in Jerusalem'" (Hasting, Bib. Dic. GUEST-CHAMBER and INN).
See INN.

Now if I was choosing who got to stay in my guest chamber, an extremely pregnant woman would probably be the chivalrous choice. But Mary's condition--an unwed mother, a couple that had "jumped the gun"--made them unwelcome.


It reminds me that Mary's "may it be unto me as you have said" wasn't a no cost statement. It actually carried some heavy burdens--like rejection by her family, loss of her reputation, a label that stayed for a lifetime.

Lord, help me say YES to you, even when the costs are great.