The word ‘advent’ is Latin for ‘a coming or arrival’.
Until the sorrow of sin I wasn’t aware of my need. Just as a school child leaves their winter jacket on the playground discarded in the fun of play ultimately to shiver in the cold over the holiday break I too when in the frolic of sin throw off restriction. There in the cold wind of separation my need is apparent. The warmth gone, the cost of relationship and loss comingle with Christmas.
Are you worn out and worried Christmas won’t be as awesome as your children deserve?
Sin in her muddy mess has soiled the halls of community. Often my Christmas was spent between two homes if not more with Jay and I attempting to be well-mannered and well-liked we would shuffle between parents. Jay and I were loved children but the leftovers of their union. Children, dependents, bound to a legal parenting plan. We were often traveling and living as a guest dependent upon other’s hospitality and the offering of a toothbrush if ours was forgotten. We, all of us, God’s children, join Joseph and Mary in the challenge of welcoming Christmas in humble places and challenging circumstances. This too is Advent.
And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
The Greek word kataluma means lodging place and it’s usually translated guest or upper room. Malia knows more on the circumstances in Bethlehem as she traveled to Bethlehem just a few months ago.
Now as scripture states, Mary and Joseph were headed back to Bethlehem for the census. Because of this, we know that Mary and Joseph were originally from Bethlehem. In fact, both Mary and Joseph had land in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem’s population in the time of Jesus was very small, probably somewhere around 700. Because of this size, it would be very unlikely for a place like Bethlehem to have something like a hotel or “Inn”.
To make understanding of what the English translation of “Inn” means in the Bible, we have to understand the construction of the houses in Jesus’ day.
In each of the houses, there was an upper and a lower room. Houses were typically built upon caves. The caves being the lower room. The reason for this, is that caves are cool in the summer, and hot in the winter. This makes living more bearable in the extreme seasons. The upper room was a place where living happened. It’s where the family would sleep, and where they would have family dinners. The lower room was the place where field workers could come in and eat, or animals would sometimes go.
This is what makes the act of the man giving Jesus the upper room at the last supper a big deal. It would have been kind to offer the lower room, but giving him the upper room, where his family lives and sleeps, is an act of respect and reverence.
So, we know that Mary and Joseph had a family in Bethlehem. So when they say there was no room at the inn. They are saying that there was no room in the upper room.
Not only that, but purity is a vital part of Jewish culture. And one thing that is absolutely unclean, is blood. So, Mary having her baby in a crowded upper room, would have been considered unclean.
Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Swaddling clothes were used for two things: for burial, and for sacrifices.
Swaddling clothes were taken on long journeys, in case someone encountered a body along the road. They would use the swaddling clothes to give the body a proper burial.
They were also used for sacrifices. Certain lambs would be born and raised to be a sacrifice. What would make a lamb a sacrifice is when it was born, it would be wrapped in swaddling clothes, so that it’s feet wouldn’t touch the ground, and it would pass through the arms of a Shepherd.
That is exactly what Jesus did. God called the Shepherds to meet Jesus. He was wrapped in swaddling cloth, and passed through the arms of a Shepherd. Making him the ultimate sacrifice.
As Christmas comes and relationship challenge with it, light the candle of purity. Wash the weary faces and dirty hands. Cleanse the counters, and prepare for the feast. The Lamb of God comes. He the only pure uncontaminated one is worthy to break the hold of our sorrows, to light our darkened circumstances. He clads the world in garments of salvation rather than shame. He alone restores the union between God and man. He alone is worthy.
Listen: what part, concept, or segment stands out?
Do THIS: Light the candle of purity. There were around 700 years between Isaiah’s preaching and Jesus arrival.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14 NIV