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Why There Was No Room in the Inn

by Rev. W. Cairns Henderson

It is recorded that the newborn Lord was laid in a manger, "because there was no room for them in the inn." The appearance is that manmade external conditions determined the place of His birth; the reality is that it was governed by arcane reasons. If it had pleased the Lord, the Writings say, He might have been born in a splendid palace, and have been laid in a bed adorned with precious stones; but He would then have been with those who were in no doctrine of truth - for in no palace was that doctrine then known - and there would thus have been no heavenly representation.

An inn might have been a fitting place indeed for the Lord's birth, because it represents, among other things, a place of instruction in the doctrine of the church from the Word. But not a Judean inn; for instruction was then in the hands of the Jews, who had so adulterated the Word that they were in mere falsities, and in the hearts of those who are such there is no room for the saving truth of the Word or for the virginal affection that gives it birth.

The inn would not have afforded a heavenly representation either; that was provided only by the manger, by which is meant the doctrine of truth where the understanding of the Word is fed. So is it also in the living world of human minds to which the Lord comes continually-comes now in His second advent. Where the falsity of evil congregates to rest or revel and to seek protection from the terror that walks by night, there the spiritual truth of the Word cannot be born. There is no room, no place where that truth in its first tender beginnings may lay its head. Spiritual truth can rest only in genuine doctrine; and if we would find it we must go to the Word from the love of understanding it and seek the doctrine of truth as the food of the spirit, for in that, and in that alone, is saving truth born and laid to rest.

There is, however, another aspect of this phase of the familiar story. The Writings render "inn" by the same word that they use for "diversion" - those diversions which are usually summed up in the term, social life. Here the significance becomes clear at once. Those for whom Christmas is merely a round of social events, an occasion for jollity and revelry, will have no room in their hearts for Him whose birth is the excuse, but not the reason, for their celebrations. The social side of Christmas can be a part of the life of charity, and it requires delightful preparations. But the most vital making ready, if we would not have Christmas pass us by, is that which is stated in the injunction of the Christmas hymn: "Let every heart prepare Him room."

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