Numbers 24:1‐25:18; Luke 2:1‐35; Psalm 59:1‐17; Proverbs 11:14
In his illuminating book, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Dr. Kenneth Bailey places the events and stories of the gospels within the cultural context of Palestine. We have interpreted the events in Luke to match our nativity sets. But Dr. Bailey insists that it would have been unthinkable that a pregnant mother could not have found a place to stay in her husband’s ancestral city.
What then about the inn and what of the manger? A typical Palestinian house had an area for animals at one end of the house, a main living area in the middle, and an area for guests at the other end. Animals were brought into the house in the evening to help keep the house warm. The manger sat in the opening between the living area and the animal area. The animals ate from the manger but could not enter the living area.
The inn that the Bible speaks of is really the guest room. When we hear the story we imagine a motel with no rooms available. But what the Bible really says it that the guest room was so crowded that they laid the baby in the manger! (I guess the animals had to spend at least one night tied outside.)
Does this ruin the story? Not at all. In fact it “makes room” for us to participate. While God occasionally acts through miracles, He most often acts through His people. Have you made your house available for His use? Have you opened the door for Him?
St. Matthews Episcopal Church