And while they were there, the time came for her to
give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and
wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a
manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Now you would think that if God so rules the world as to use an
empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, he
surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn.
Yes, he could have. And Jesus could have been born into a
wealthy family. He could have turned stone into bread in the
wilderness. He could have called 10,000 angels to his aid in
Gethsemane. He could have come down from the cross and
saved himself. The question is not what God could do, but what
he willed to do.
God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your
sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the
motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he
became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake
of his children. The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy”
sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of
the cross in Jerusalem.
And we must not forget that he said, “He who would come
after me must deny himself and take up his cross” (Matthew
We join him on the Calvary road and hear him say,
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater
than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you”
To the one who calls out enthusiastically, “I will follow you
wherever you go!” (Matthew 8:19). Jesus responds, “Foxes have
holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has
nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his
birth. But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.
John Piper, Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, p. 9-10