Daily Devotion Dec. 5, 2023

“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room” (Luke 2:6-7, NRSV).

     Over the years, the innkeeper’s reputation has taken a beating. He has been viewed as a heartless businessman who was more interested in making money than helping a poor family in need. Personally, I believe the innkeeper has been given a bad rap. The reality may be that the innkeeper was a rather gracious person.

     Family homes in the region surrounding Bethlehem were oftentimes hewn out of sandstone. On one level lived the family. In this small room, parents and their children would eat, sleep, and engage in activities of daily living. On a slightly lower level was kept the family livestock: sheep, a donkey, and other domesticated animals. These creatures were kept inside at night in order to protect them from thieves or predators.

     This lower level describes the setting of Jesus’ birth. The manger would have been located inside the lower level. Given that the hotel was completely booked with patrons visiting Bethlehem during the Roman census, it seems to me that the only option the innkeeper had was to offer his own house to the holy family. The image is not one of the baby Jesus sleeping in a cold, lonesome barn but a home in which Christ was surrounded by an adoptive family (albeit for one night), who with the shepherds and angels welcomed him into the world.

     I’m certain that the census was a busy season for the innkeeper and his family, yet they found sufficient time to grant Jesus room in their home and hearts. During this season of Advent with all the office parties, cookie baking, and shopping, I wonder how many Christians are willing to follow the example of the innkeeper?—to intentionally set apart space and time for the twin purposes of worshipping and adoring Jesus. When Christ knocks on the door of your heart in coming days, what will be your response?


Lord Jesus, during the crazy days of December, decelerate my mind and redirect my activities, so that you become the center of my attention. You are most welcome to make my heart your home. Amen.