Six Ways to Miss Christmas – Ignorant Preoccupation

from John MacArthur’s booklet, Six Ways to Miss Christmas.

Ignorant Preoccupation

Luke 2:7 says, “[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” The first person who missed Christmas was the innkeeper. He was unable to take in Mary and Joseph because he had no room for them. Apparently he was indifferent to their plight—there is no indication from Scripture that he called for any help.

Notice that verse 7 says, “She gave birth to her first-born son.” Mary herself gave birth to Jesus. By herself she wrapped Him in cloths. Joseph was there to help, but if he was anything like most young fathers, he would have been of little help. Middle-eastern people are hospitable, kind, and caring. They are not barbaric. They are not the kind of people who would leave a woman alone to have her baby. But in this case, they did. Where were the midwives? You’d think the innkeeper would have known someone who could have helped.

Luke tells us she laid Him in a manger, which is an animal feeding trough. The cloths she wrapped Jesus in were long strips of cloth. Whenever an infant was born, immediately the baby was cleaned. Then the baby’s limbs and body would be wrapped in these swaddling cloths and then wrapped in an outer blanket. That was a duty normally carried out by a midwife. But Mary had to do it all herself. Commentator G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “Think of the pathos of it. ‘She brought forth;’ ‘she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.’ It is very beautiful, but oh, the pity of it, the tragedy of it, the loneliness of it; that in that hour of all hours, when womanhood should be surrounded by the tenderest care, she was alone. The method of the writer is very distinct. She with her own hands wrapped the Baby around with those swaddling cloths, and laid Him in the manger. There was no one to do it for her. Again I say, the pity of it, and yet the glory of it to the heart of Mary” (The Gospel According to Luke [Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1931], p. 36).

We don’t know anything about the innkeeper because the Bible doesn’t say anything about him. Some commentators speculate that Jesus was born in a stable some think He was born in a cave, and others believe he was born in an open courtyard at the inn. One thing we do know: whatever hospitality Mary and Joseph hoped to find, they found none—they were turned away.

Why did the innkeeper miss Christmas? I think the simple answer is preoccupation. He was busy. His inn was full because a census was being held in Bethlehem . The city was bulging with people whose ancestors came from there. Since Bethlehem was the city of David , all those who were in the line of David were there, including Joseph and Mary. The innkeeper wasn’t necessarily hostile and unsympathetic; he was just busy.

Many people are like the innkeeper. The chambers of their souls are filled with needless things—with stuff that doesn’t matter. As a result, they miss the Christ of God. Our society is filled with the unnecessary, the insignificant, and the meaningless. We spend a fortune to amass things so we can let our children fight over them when we die. And our time is eaten away by the demands our things place on us.

People miss Christ at Christmastime because He is crowded out by a world that dictates what they should think, do, and buy. Like the innkeeper, people today are preoccupied. The innkeeper didn’t know anything about the baby Mary gave birth to, and neither do they. They don’t know who Christ is and they don’t know why He came. Instead, they’re ignorantly preoccupied with the mundane and the meaningless. How sad it is that so many people live their lives in pursuit of such, only to wake up one day in eternity without God.