Let’s be honest. He’s probably gotten a pretty bad rap for a long time. Personally, I’ve resented him. Felt bitter toward him. Questioned him. And, in truth, blamed him — that Innkeeper in the little town of Bethlehem, who told Joseph, “No room.”

Perhaps he held up his hand the moment the door opened — declaring defensively, “No vacancy,” then closed the door extra hard for emphasis. 

Maybe he was apologetic, seeing the weary eyes of the soon-to-be-father. Did he sigh and say, “I’m so very sorry, Sir, but I’m full up with guests. All these people returning to Bethlehem….”?

But from behind the closed door, did he think to himself, Is there room? Could I double up families, just for tonight? I wonder.

We’re not told much about this man who was likely of Jewish descent and awaited the arrival of Messiah as foretold by the prophets. How could he have known that the woman for whom Joseph sought shelter carried within her the fulfillment of the promise?

All we know from Luke is  “…there was no room for them in the inn (2:7). And if there was an inn, there certainly was an innkeeper — the one who said, however he may have conveyed the message, “No.”

As a child, I loved a song sung by a Norwegian artist named Evie. “No Room” (by John W. Peterson) offers a statement — No room, only a manger of hay. No room…

The song is a medley of sorts, and as the tempo picks up, a question is asked — Have you any room for Jesus, He who bore your load of sin? As He knocks and asks admission, Sinner, won’t you let Him in?..

And this Advent season, we’ve been singing a new song at church. “Prepare Him Room” (by Greg Boudreaux) offers a commission — Let every heart, let every heart prepare Him room…

A statement. A question. A commission.

I wonder about this nameless Innkeeper who’s been a source of skepticism. Perhaps he heard the knock and said to himself behind closed doors, “I’m full.” Did he then ask, “Can I make room?” Knowing he couldn’t, maybe he mustered courage to regretfully commission the person on the other side of the door — “Look elsewhere!”

His statement. His question. His commission.

But had he replied “yes” — somehow managing to make room for the couple on the night of Messiah’s birth — wouldn’t the Innkeeper have hindered God’s prophetic word regarding Jesus’ most humble birth? Micah 4:8 foretold — “And you, O tower of the flock… to you shall [he] come.”

Not to an inn, but to the “tower of the flock” — a very special sort of stable for the Lamb of God, a barn in Bethlehem where the unblemished lambs to be used in temple sacrifices were born.

Jesus came as the Once-For-All-Lamb — living, dying and rising again to defeat sin and death, abolishing the need for such sacrifice, because He was the atoning sacrifice.

Years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul wrote to the Colossians, sharing with them a secret. “… Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Christ in us — what a statement.

But now we’re asked — “Do you believe this?”

Finally, we’re commissioned — “Now go with Christ who is mighty in you!”

Experiencing the presence of God means that sometimes His answer through us is “No.” Knowing this stirs within me sympathy for the Innkeeper, who was unaware of just how close the Word made flesh really was — likely only footsteps away on that most Holy Night. But his “No room” response created space for a miracle.

And his story reminds us, especially when coupled with Colossians 1:27, that living in God’s presence — yes, in Jesus’ presence — beckons us to prepare room in our hearts for all the precious gifts we’re offered; that we, in turn, offer to a world in need.

No room,” God states, then asks, “Have you any room for Jesus?

By listening to His statement and then pondering His question, one is made ready to heed His commission — Prepare Him room!

Which, for me, might just mean forgiving an innocent, old Innkeeper.