Every Christmas that I can remember we have gathered as a family, as a church, or simply because it’s that time of year, and read The Gospel of Luke and how Mary gave birth to the Son of God in a manger behind an overcrowded inn. Every pageant I have ever seen has the usual cast of characters: wise men, shepherds and angels, but I’ve never seen a role set aside for the one guy who missed the miracle altogether.

No one ever talks about the innkeeper. Other than telling the expectant mother and her distressed husband where to find the manger, he’s never mentioned again in the story. I’ve always thought it sad to be so close to the most world-changing event in history and totally miss it. Then again, I see people every Christmas totally miss the miracle that is taking place right in front of them.

The world we live in has a real problem when it comes to perspective. The things we are concerned with—matters we think are hugely important—we often over-exaggerate their value and forget what really matters. I am sure the innkeeper was very busy. The census that the Romans called for filled the streets of Bethlehem with the descendants of the Tribe of Judah. Every room in the man’s facility was full, every dish in service and every inch in use. Certainly it’s justifiable that he truly did all he could do at the time to accommodate the young couple and we can’t fault him too harshly. Or can we?

Think of the wise men from the East. They were diligently looking for a sign. They watched the sky constantly, they read the prophecies, considered the seasons, and when the star shined, some theologians claim it took them more than two years to come from their native land to present their gifts to the newborn King. What about Simeon? This elderly gentleman waited daily in the temple believing that He would get to see the Messiah before he passed from this life. On the eighth day of His life, when Mary and Joseph entered the Temple, Simeon instantly recognized who this child was, and it was no ordinary baby. This one was the Promised One, Emmanuel, God with Us. Simeon scooped Him into his arms and shouted that he was holding a Light to the Gentiles. How could these men from so far away—and Simeon who waited patiently for the child—not miss the moment, yet the guy who answered the door at the inn not even have a clue that the child born behind his home was the One the world is still talking about today?

The truth is he wasn’t paying attention. While he lived in the right place at the right time, he hadn’t read what the prophets had said. He wasn’t looking for the same signs that the wise men and others were looking for. When the time came, rather than have a room ready and waiting for the guest of honor to arrive, the innkeeper dismissed the circumstance as merely a moment in time and not the moment the world was waiting for. The Bible tells us that to those who are watching and waiting, to them will He appear.

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