Although the Greek word is the same for the “guest-chamber” at Jerusalem, where the Breaking of the Bread was instituted, and the ‘inn” at Bethlehem, where Mary and Joseph sought residence, the reception was certainly different. There was a welcome for the Master and His twelve disciples at the one; but there was refusal for Joseph, Mary and the expected Child, at the other.
There was a large upper room fully furnished at the house of welcome in Jerusalem, and the disciples were able to make ready those things which were to speak of His death. “And they … found as He had said … and they made ready (Luke 22:13). But there was no room at the inn, no guest-chamber, and the family chosen to introduce to the world the Son of God from heaven, were relegated to a cattle shed. “And she brought forth her firstborn Son; and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). It was in such a place that Mary had to make ready for His birth.
What a contrast with the place where the disciples made ready with those things relating to His death! The Babe was seen by the shepherds lying in the very crib where the fodder was put to feed the animals. What must their thoughts have been at such a sight? What place was this for a Saviour, an anointed Lord? Their reassurance was in the angelic message, “And this will be sign to you, you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
The two contrasting events seem to reflect human thinking unto this day. Some have a place for Him, and some have not. “But as many as received (or welcomed) Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). For such He has provided an eternal “guest chamber” in the heavenly mansions (John 14:2); but until its occupancy is realized, He desires to take up residence in their redeemed hearts. This is the precious thought of comfort conveyed by Paul to early Christians. “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (Ephesians 3:17,18). To dwell means to “inhabit, reside, settle down”. This is the welcome He wants from, us personally. Are we fully conscious of this? Or are we missing one of the great blessings of our Christian life?