The events surrounding the birth of Jesus have been retold so many times and in so many ways whether it be plays, church nativity, books, movies, or musicals that most people have a distorted view of the true events surrounding it. These misconceptions have been repeated as fact drawing many to have a fictitious theology of that blessed night. So what might have truly happened that night? Join me these next few weeks as I tell, “A little story about an ‘inn'”
Part 1- Free Parking
As you round the corner on your way to your hotel you are eyeing the Micky D’s across the street from the parking garage. A part of you is hungry but more than that you are just exhausted. Although you’ve contemplated this mid night cheeseburger run you decide that more so, you are just ready to get your luggage out and get checked in to your room. Before exiting your vehicle, you jam out to the last few lines to the song you have been listening to because everyone sounds like Mariah in their car right? Then you catch a glimpse of an older man who looks to have been a victim of a long day of travel as well. He is feebly placing nickel after nickel in the vending machine near the maintenance nook directly opposite of the elevators. As you stretch to get a better angle you see he is not alone. A young pregnant teenage girl is collapsed in the nook next to him. At this moment a million thoughts are running through your head. Secretly, you become a mix of James Bond and Mission Impossible as you remain invisible and create illustrious thoughts of stopping this obvious case of human trafficking. At the same time, you just don’t want to get involved. Even more alarming, you can tell that the young girl is seething in pain and appears to be full term. You contemplate calling the cops or an ambulance because it appears that this young girl is in labor but you also just don’t want to get involved. At that moment, all your worst fears become reality. You see their car. Parked directly across from them is a beat up ford bronco parked in reverse and it appears to be a house on wheels. The man has started rooting through it looking for some spare change but clearly his search is thwarted by the mountain of contents that have been shoved in the back seat. At that moment you hear her scream, “He is coming!”. You lay your seat back and anonymously call the police department. As you explain to dispatch what you are witnessing, the operators voice is in total disbelief. They are asking you to get involved until an ambulance and officer arrive, but the fear of this unparalleled situation has rendered you paralyzed. This is a parking garage, not a hospital. This is a teen girl and a full-grown man, not a television family happily receiving a child. You faintly hear the young girl screaming as the couple attempts to remain unnoticed by the public and that’s when you hear the piercing sound of a new-born baby’s cry. A make shift box becomes his bed and oily rags and unwashed towels become his swaddling blankets.
Looking back on this momentous night, you have learned that the couple attempted to get a hotel room but due to it being a convention season, businessmen and women had left all the area hotels without vacancy. The hotel clerk at your hotel was the last one they visited and he also turned them away, and he even threatened them not to make residence in the lobby just minutes before your arrival. As this modern story stands, it isn’t much different from many of our perceptions of how Mary and Joseph appeared the night Jesus was born. The modern perspective of Jesus’ birth goes like this: “It’s about 2000 years ago on the evening of December 25. Old man Joseph and 14-year-old pregnant Mary ride into Bethlehem on an old family donkey, the time comes to deliver her baby and obviously it’s an emergency. All the innkeepers turn them away with no vacancy, so they deliver baby Jesus in a barn next to the parked donkeys and camels.”
- Are our common illustrations of the Nativity accurate?
- Do we truly understand the cultural context surrounding Jesus’ birth and how important is it to understanding the story?
Although the modern perspective teaches us about the humble beginnings of Christ, I believe it leaves us with more questions than answers as to how a pregnant young woman, who was married/engaged to a presumably successful carpenter from a distinguished family name had to give birth to the prophesied Savior of the World in a 1st century parking garage in her to-be spouses home town of Bethlehem. I presume they weren’t charged to stay there that night, so one might assume today that Jesus’ “Free Parking” then would be imputed to us in salvation as he ultimately paid the costly price for our sins and we are in his righteousness. Perhaps Jesus’ birth could minister to us more, if only we can discover the true story behind that night in Bethlehem.