Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 7, 2014

Advent 2014 :: week two

When it came close to the time for his Ascension, he gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead. They came to a Samaritan village to make arrangements for his hospitality. But when the Samaritans learned that his destination was Jerusalem, they refused hospitality. When the disciples James and John learned of it, they said, “Master, do you want us to call a bolt of lightning down out of the sky and incinerate them?” Jesus turned on them: “Of course not!” And they traveled on to another village. On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said. Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”

Those words are from Luke 9:51-58 (The Message).  Do they sound familiar to you?  Do they remind you of another place and time in the life of Jesus?  I came across this passage while doing some Advent reading and research recently, and it stopped me dead in my tracks.  As Jesus is preparing to leave this world, He is treated very much like His parents were as they were preparing for Him to enter it.

I didn’t remember this story.  I knew the words of the final verse (most familiarly translated as “foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the son of Man has no place to lay his head.”), but I didn’t remember the full context.  It was “no room at the inn,” all over again.

I would love to know more of the events of Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, their search for a place to stay once they arrived and the holy night that likely wasn’t very silent.  The biblical account of those events is so sparse (no offense to its Author).  Many have attempted to “fill in the blanks,” make reasoned assumptions, and draw from things customary to the times in order to “expand” the story.  For instance, many would say an innkeeper was part of the Nativity narrative.  Was there an innkeeper that answered the door and said, “No room”?  Maybe.  But wouldn’t Joseph have had family still living in the town of his birth, making it unlikely that he’d seek vacancy at an inn?  Quite possibly.  Whatever the events of that holy night, it is true that no one had proper accommodations for the couple and their expectant Child.

Are you bracing yourself for “what would you have done or said?!”  There have been plenty of writers before me who have waxed eloquent in their laments and critiques of those who turned away Mary, Joseph and the coming Christ-child.  Many who have asked that exact question.  I’ll be honest … I’m not really interested in that question.  But here is one I am considering in my own life, and I’d love for you to join me in asking of yourself:

What if a flesh and blood someone knocked on my door right now and was looking for shelter, food or help?  What would I do?  What would I say?  What would I offer them?

I’d encourage you not to seek or accept a quick answer.  I’d encourage you to use the full breadth of this second Sunday of Advent (and beyond) to ponder this very real question.  Question every answer your mind begins to form.  Then question the answer to that question.  I won’t share my own thoughts, but I will share a couple of passages of Scripture that speak truth into the question (and resulting questions).

Sincere prayers for a profitable pondering.

“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
Hebrews 13:1-3 (NLT)



  1. What would I do? What would I say? What would I offer them?


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