Born in a Stable

05 Jun
Birth of Jesus - 1

from Google Images

Should we expect an animal stable to be the place for the long awaited Messiah (Luke 2:7; cf. Matthew 2:1-8)? No we should not. In fact, the Magi in Matthew’s account ended up in Herod’s palace in pursuit of the Messiah. The point is that the Davidic line was powerless (Luke 1:48, 52). The Jews were ruled by a priestly line that came to power through bribery. They were appointed by authorities who weren’t Jewish. Is it any wonder that the Messiah had no place among them (cf. John 1:10-11)?

No doubt the inn Luke mentions refers to a synagogue. The same word for inn used in Luke 2:7 is translated guest-chamber in Luke 22:11 and Mark 14:14. There we find that it was a large furnished room. It could be used for banquets and for lodging. It was a public place as we see in Luke 22:10, because Jesus told the disciples to follow the male servant and continue into the house (G3614). They were to speak with the good-man of the house, (G3614) or (G3617) in Mark 14:14. G3617, meaning the lord or master of the house, and this title answers to the ruler of the synagogue. There were hundreds of synagogues in Jerusalem, accommodating many Hellenistic Jews from around the Empire. They couldn’t possibly support themselves, unless they doubled as inns for pilgrims coming to the annual festivals.

Possibly referring to his own humble birth, Jesus tells us that in the Father’s house (G3614) there are many dwellings (G3438 – cf. John 14:2). When a man loves Jesus and keeps his sayings, the Father and Jesus will come and dwell or lodge (G3438) with him, implying the question: do we have room for Jesus in our lives.

There is an ancient inscription on a stone found in Jerusalem called the Theodotus Inscription, it dates to the first century AD. It was uncovered in 1913 near David’s City (Mount Ophel) in Jerusalem. The inscription is in Greek and comes to us inscribed in limestone. It is on display today in the Rockefeller museum in Jerusalem. English translation:

“Theodotus, son of Vettanos, a priest and an archisynagogos,[1] son of an archisynagogos grandson of an archisynagogos, built the synagogue for the reading of Torah and for teaching the commandments; furthermore, the hostel, and the rooms, and the water installation for lodging needy strangers. Its foundation stone was laid by his ancestors, the elders, and Simonides.”

Later Jesus was cast out of the synagogues, at least those controlled by the powerful high priests and the powerful Pharisees, meaning he was probably excommunicated from Judaism (cf. John 11:53-54, 57; 12:37, 42). Just as there was no room for him in the inn or synagogue when he was born, there was also no room for him there as an adult (Luke 9:58; cf. Matthew 8:20), especially near his death.

It is doubtful that the inn of Luke 2:7 simply ran out of room, and Joseph and Mary were simply unlucky to arrive too late for proper accommodations. Rather, it seems significant that they were shut out of the inn’s accommodations, because Mary was pregnant. Once the birth occurred, she would be unclean, and anyone who touched her or helped in the birthing process would be unclean (Leviticus 12:1-4; cf. Luke 2:22) and would not be able to participate in the religious proceedings during the annual Festivals (cf. Luke 10:30-35).

Normally, women would have been exempt from the census, but Mary had to go to Bethlehem with Joseph, because she too was descended from David through Nathan (Luke 3). Her father, Heli, had no males to carry on his name. This is why Mary’s marriage to Joseph was being arranged, that is, to raise up a son in Heli’s family. Therefore, if Mary, as implied by the genealogy in Luke 3, was the eldest daughter of her father, Heli, who had no sons, then she was just as likely to come under Herod’s scrutiny in a loyalty census as any male descendant of David.


[1] That is “ruler of the synagogue”. The Greek word is G572 and is the same word found and so translated in Matthew 5:35, 36 and 38.

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Posted by on June 5, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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