It had been a peaceful night thus far. The cattle had been fed as well as the little donkey. Right outside of the barn, the pigs were happy and satisfied with scraps that were fed to them just minutes before. The mice had picked up some crumbs that had been left, lingering on their feast for just a few seconds before scurrying back within the walls of their domain. Even the baby goats had been fed by their mother and had snuggled up against her, feeling the comfort and warmth that she provided.
Sheep were softly bleating sounds of contentment on a nearby hill. They were being watched by their shepherds. A calmness and stillness came over the hill, as the night grew and gave way to the shepherds taking turns of dozing for a few minutes from their long and exhausting hours. Away from their family, they were tired, hungry and very much in need of a bath. Thankful for the small respite of rest, each took their turn with a silent and grateful heart.
The tiny barn continued to be peaceful for a while, then the atmosphere slowly started to change. The pigs who were happy earlier, started grunting loudly outside in their pin as their sleep had been disturbed. The baby goats rose from their slumber, and ran around their mother, who was casting a wary eye towards the barn opening. The little donkey sidled up next to the cattle not sure of what was happening. And the mice caught a glimpse of the disturbance, running back into the crack, unsure and afraid of what was about to take place.
No words were spoken as the couple entered the barn, they looked all around. It’s not what they wanted, but with a tiredness like they had never known, both were very thankful and grateful that they were off of the road and at least had a roof over their heads. Joseph was worried and very much concerned, but he kept this to himself, he had to be strong for Mary. He was so proud of her. She took this long journey better than he had expected. He knew God had given her the strength to travel. She had even praised God through singing songs of gratitude and thankfulness as she sat upon the donkey’s back. He loved to hear her sing. Her sweet voice was that of an angel carried all through night as they traveled onward.
As she walked through the opening of the barn, the smell was overwhelming. Her pains were coming fast and the smell wasn’t helping the situation at all. Joseph saw the frightened look in her eyes and quickly put his arms around her. He led her gently over to some hay that was piled in the corner of the barn. The cattle and little donkey were standing still as they went by, and Mary smiled weakly at the baby goats gathering near their mother for protection.
Joseph spied a feeding trough and moved it closer to Mary. A manger could hold the baby after he was born. The night gave way to a calm and peacefulness that had taken over the little barn. Even it’s occupants had settled back down as if welcoming the strangers who were now residing with them.
They had knocked on the doors of several homes that night, asking the owners if they had an extra room for them. None were to be found. All of the public shelters were full. They had no where to go. There was no room for them anywhere, no place for baby Jesus. As Joseph raised his hand to knock one last time, he breathed a prayer in his heart.
Silence grew as they were alone with the animals, and Mary was about to give birth. Their prayers lifting up to God, welcomed the baby into the world. No longer traveling, no longer tired, and no longer afraid. God had provided a place for them and He was with them. The cloths Mary had brought on their journey were now ready to be used. She had tucked them away, for this beautiful moment. As she kissed her sweet little baby boy, and began wrapping him lovingly with the cloths, a lullaby filled the air in an angelic voice that Joseph had come to know and love.
The shepherds that were nearby on a hill, had also heard angelic voices singing that night. Voices coming from above, from all around, surrounding them from the heavens. Startled, they were assured not be afraid. They were tired, hungry and dirty, and at first didn’t believe what they had seen or heard. No one had ever paid them any attention. Shepherds were never noticed or thought of much. Lowly as they were, they were visited on this special night by an angel who had brought them good news! “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 NLT
After this message of great news and with a finale of heavenly hosts singing round about them, the shepherds shook their heads as if to clear any doubt of what they had seen or heard. They stood on the hill, in awe and wonder. If this had happened to just one of them, it would have been hard to believe. But with more than one as a witness, their story would be told. “When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15
As they set out to see this baby, they questioned each other about what the angel had said to them, wondering if they had heard correctly. Was that right? Did the angel say that the Lord would be lying in a manger? They talked with each other as they journeyed on. They knew that mangers were in a barn, and if mangers were found in a barn, then that meant that the baby was in a barn. They discussed how there must have been no other place for him! Surely the angel was mistaken about that. No place for the Lord?
The shepherds arrival at the barn caused the animals to stir. They slowly entered, not sure of what they would see. As they stopped for a second and marveled at the scene before them, they saw a young couple bending over a manger of hay. Within the manger lay a tiny baby wrapped in cloth. Just like the angel had said. Slowly the eyes of the couple fell upon the shepherds. They welcomed them into the barn to see their baby. Welcoming them with kind words spilling forth from their hearts. Hearts that were filled with joy. Hearts that were filled with wonder. Hearts that were filled with love. A love from the one that had been placed in a manger because there was no room for Him. And even though there was no room for baby Jesus the night before, his parents had lovingly placed room for him in their hearts. Their love for Jesus shone as brightly as the star that had guided the three wise men who had also come to visit on that beautiful night when our Savior was born!
It’s important and very significant for us to remember that there was no room for Jesus that night. Our lives can be filled up with so many things as we travel on this earth. When our lives are filled up in such a way, is there room for Jesus? Have we made room for Him? Will you, will I make room for Him today?
As we all reflect on the story of that first Christmas, of that beautiful journey that Mary and Joseph took to welcome Jesus our Lord and Savior into this world, remember these words from Paul…
“Make room for the Master!…Jesus has his arms wide open for you.” 1 Corinthians 16:22-23 MSG