We all have questions and you have asked a great one! Why was there no room in the inn for baby Jesus? It seems that the King of Kings would have been born in the best available place. But we need to understand Who God is and how His plan is always best. Is Jesus God? Let’s dive in and find some answers.
Why Did Mary Lay Jesus in a Manger?
Joseph also went…to the city of David which is called Bethlehem…along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there (she gave) birth…to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
What, you may ask? There’s no room for the King of the universe? What happened to that famous Jewish hospitality? Why would they go to an inn?
Where was Jesus Born?
Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem because the Romans took a census. They would have relatives in Bethlehem of Judea belonging, as they did, to Judah’s tribe. But other relatives had arrived before them and had taken up the guest rooms in that house.
The New Testament was written in Greek and the word translated “inn” is καταλύματι. Because Mary laid the newborn Jesus in a manger, it’s natural to picture the place where they stayed as a cave or something like a detached barn.
Interpreters translated this same Greek word as “guest room” in Mark 14:14:
Say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher (Jesus) says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?Mark 14:14
And the “guest room” is described in v. 15: And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.”
This was the room Jesus and the disciples shared to observe the Last Supper. This room was in the upper part of this house. Some believe this room was in Mark’s family’s home. Now Jesus was not born in this lavish room. Showing this word used in this way is meant to show that this birthing room was not a cold dark cave:
And when he (Peter whom an angel had released from prison) realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark (the writer of the Gospel,” where many were gathered together and were praying. When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer.
If this was Mark’s house, it was a wealthy person’s house with a servant girl. It was not an inn, which we think of as a place to rent out to stay the night.
Why Was Jesus Born Among the Animals?
In some Jewish houses, the καταλύματι was a room on the lowest floor equipped for animals to shelter for the night. The presence of animals helped warm the home. It remains a humble spot for Mary to birth this Child. She didn’t get a room on the next level(s), but she did get the lowliest quarters in that house and that room also housed animals.
Hopefully, this article gives readers a more accurate picture of this scene. As usual, Jesus was not given royal treatment, but the humblest:
Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is [e]Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.Luke 2:11-12