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No Room in the Inn? It's Worse Than That

No Room in the Inn? It's Worse Than That

December 20, 2023

Most of us know the Christmas story from the Bible and could even quote from memory passages of Luke and Matthew. We’ve seen dramatizations of a harried Joseph and Mary arriving in crowded Bethlehem, where all the hotel rooms were booked. Often a frazzled innkeeper is convinced by his kindly wife to let the desperate couple use the barn. “Can’t you see she’s about to have a baby? At least bring them some fresh straw!”

The real story is actually grittier than that.

Joseph’s ancestral home was Bethlehem, so he was most likely related to most of its inhabitants. In those days in the Jewish culture, hospitality was mandatory. Each home had a kataluma (in Greek, meaning “lodging place”), a room of a house set aside so out of town guests could spend the night. (This is the Greek word originally used, not pandocheion, more commonly used when referring to a public inn).

Imagine the shock when Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary arrive for the census.

“A baby!?”  “When was the wedding? We’re your relatives! Why weren’t we invited?”

Oh, there was no wedding!?”  “Shame!!”

There was no guest room, no kataluma, available for them.

No room, here in the hearts of mankind,
No room, no cheery welcome could find,
No room, surely the world is blind,
No room, no room.

Angels, in heaven up yonder,
Watch with amazement and wonder,
To see the Son of the Highest treated so,
No room, no room, no room. (John W. Peterson)


He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isaiah 53:3)

This Christmas, remember the sacrifice that Jesus made to redeem us to God. Ponder His humility. Welcome Him into your heart and life in a new way. Trust Him as your Savior and Lord. Worthy is the Lamb.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)