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Day 15 – Thursday, Dec 21

Of all the verses in Scripture, Luke 2:7 is one of the easiest to comprehend, but it is also one of the most arresting.  After Jesus was born, Mary simply “placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  We might wonder why there no room for Him in the inn and perhaps think it was just incidental — that Joseph and Mary were forced by circumstances to respond spontaneously as events unfolded.  Tired after traveling for hours, they were probably discouraged to find a “no vacancy” sign at the inn.  But it happened according to God’s eternal plan, and the inspired Word insists that we recognize the ancient manger and the inn as faithful representations of our own spiritual condition, and the passing of 2000 years has not altered or improved that condition.

Why was there no room for them in the inn?  Why no place for Jesus Christ, God’s gift to mankind?  The act of gift-giving requires a giver, a gift freely given, and a recipient who is free to receive or reject the gift.  Just as a giver is not obligated to give a gift, the recipient is not required to accept it.  So why would anyone freely reject a gift that could actually meet his or her greatest need?  Our Savior was rejected by choice, freely made in an evil heart that is at enmity with God.

One past Christmas, a wealthy real estate agent drove to a small military town in Texas for the purpose of giving away $5,000.00 in cash.  The man stood in the local Wal-Mart, and he offered cash in twenty-dollar bills to every military family who entered the store.  “It’s my way of thanking military families who fight for our freedom and make possible our way of life,” he said.  How long did it take him to give away that cash?  Do you think anyone refused the money?  Can you imagine a poor, struggling buck-private’s wife with a little baby saying, “Keep your gift; I don’t need it!  I’ve got no room for it in my life, so just stick it out there in the manger.”

The thought of rejecting a gift is absurd, and yet, this is exactly what men and women do with the gift that God actually offers them in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Rather than freely receive His gift freely given, they go about their business and consign Him to the manger — to the stalls and the pig-pens of life because He is of so little value.  The good news of the Bible is that God sent His Son into the world to meet man’s greatest need for reconciliation with God.

Dr. Eric Stricker, Dean of the Graduate School