Unsung Heroes of Christmas: The Innkeeper

“Unsung Heroes” are those men and women who do often get overlooked, but their actions have great impact on those around them. This Christmas season at Youth Group, we’re looking at some of the unsung heroes of Christmas. Last week we looked at Joseph

Small Decisions. It turns out, they really aren’t small at all. God uses them in huge ways.

Have you ever considered the Innkeeper who allowed Joseph and Mary to lodge in their stable and give birth to their baby boy? It didn’t cost him anything, it was a small decision… until King Herod sent the brute squad to slaughter all the children two years old and under.

The Inn

Matthew 2:16-18
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

The “Massacre of the Innocents” is tragic. We don’t know how many children died, but since so few people lived in that region historians estimate it was between fewer than you’d assume. The smaller number, however, doesn’t wipe away the evil or the suffering those families experienced.

The people of Bethlehem probably knew that they were mourning the loss of their children because of the baby who was born in that manger. What did the Innkeeper experience because of his small decision to show hospitality to Jesus’ family?

You never know how God will use you. Your kindness might seem like a small act right now, but God might multiply it to be something amazingly life-changing for someone… and you might never know about it!

When there is suffering, we can continue to see that God has a plan. The lives of those children mattered. The suffering of their parents was real. I’m sure they were asking, “Why would God allow this?!” As a father, I cannot minimize that pain and suffering. Perhaps those children were the first Christian martyrs? The same Jesus who was hunted down by Herod is the same Jesus who suffered and died on the cross in order to bring salvation for all those who believe. It is because of Jesus that salvation is possible, he is the rescuer of those who suffer.

We don’t know what happened to this Innkeeper. But chances are, he suffered because of Herod’s anger. Hospitality was a high value for Jewish families, so this Innkeeper couldn’t simply turn away a husband and wife (especially when the wife was in labor!). The hospitality he showed was an act of obedience to God. And it didn’t turn out like he expected.

The Innkeeper reminds us of a few things:

  • Hospitality matters. Who is God calling you to show kindness and care towards? This is usually pretty inconvenient, but serving people in need is more important than our convenience.
  • God uses small acts to do big things. That might sound really simplistic, but it’s true. You never know how God will use your simple obedience. He used the Innkeeper’s hospitality to change the world.
  • God is faithful, even when suffering might blind our eyes and hearts to the goodness of God. The Savior was born, and he suffered the greatest act of evil the world has ever known: the cross. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection is the hope of the world… the families who mourned couldn’t possibly have known God’s plan in that moment, but they were a part of His work of salvation. Even in the middle of their pain, God was at work to rescue them!

The following video presents a hypothetical conversation between Jesus and the Innkeeper just before Jesus’ crucifixion. 

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