Chapter XXIX



And they laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.—Luke ii. 7.

For four thousand years the Jews had been looking for this child. Away back in Eden before Adam and Eve were driven out, God had promised that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. And from Adam, all along down the ages, they had been looking out into the mist and into the future for this child. The prophets had prophesied of his coming and the nation had been in expectation. They were studying at that very time the prophecies to find out when he would appear. And the first thing that we hear when He comes to this country, there was not room for Him in that little inn at Bethlehem. He might have come with all the pomp, and the glory and grandeur of the upper world. Perhaps if He had come with the glory of the angels, and the glory of the Father, and His own glory as He will by and by, the nation would have received Him then, because there would have been something that would have pleased the flesh. But the idea of His coming in such lowliness, the idea of His coming in such humility—the natural man did not like it.

Just think for a moment what He came for: He came to give rest to the weary; to seek and to save that which was lost; to give sight to the blind; to help those that needed help; to reveal the Father; to bring peace where there was trouble; to heal the broken-hearted. And yet there was not room for him!

When the Prince of Wales visited this country, a few years ago, there was plenty of room for him. There was not any part of this nation that was not glad to give him a welcome. Every city was anxious that he should visit them. Every town and village and hamlet was open, and would have given him a royal welcome if he would have come to their place. When the princes of Europe have come to this country, what a welcome they have had. Although this is a republican government, yet we have been willing to give the princes of earth a welcome. And yet when the Prince of Heaven came down into this world, what a welcome did He receive? They laid Him in the manger, because there was no room for Him in the inn. But I can imagine some one says: "They did not know Him. If they had known who He was they would have given Him a welcome." I think you are greatly mistaken, because we read that when the wise men arrived from the East in Jerusalem, and said to the king, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" not only Herod, but all Jerusalem was thrown into trouble. Herod told those wise men to go down into Bethlehem and inquire diligently about the young child, and bring him word, that he, too, might go down and worship the child. A lying hypocrite! He wanted to slay the child.

Not only Jerusalem closed her doors against Him, but when He went back to Nazareth, where He was brought up, and brought the best news that was ever brought to any town—when He went back to Nazareth with the glorious gospel of God, Nazareth did not want- Him. They took Him out of the Synagogue; they took Him to the brow of the hill, and they would have hurled Him into perdition if they could. They did not want Him. There was not room for Him.

But, my friends, it is a very common saying now that the world has grown wiser and better, that we have been improving, and that if Christ should return, things would be different, that we are in light, and that He came in a dark age, that He was not then welcome, but He would be now.

But I would like to ask you to think for a little while. What nation would give Him a welcome now? Do you know of any? They call America a Christian nation, but has America room for the Son of God? Does America want Him? Suppose it could be put to a popular vote; do you suppose this nation would vote to have Him come and reign? He would not carry a ward in this city; you know it very well. He would not carry a town or a precinct in the United States; you know it very well. A great many of your so-called Christians would say, "We don't want Him, we are not ready." Things would have to be straightened up, and there would be a great change if Christ should come. The way men are doing business, I think, would have to be straightened out. Business men don't want Him. You put it to the commercial men of the present day, and do you think they would want Him? Do you think all the tricks in trade would

be carried on if He were here? Do you think all this rascality that is going on at the present day under the garb of commerce—a great many very noble men are engaged in it—but do you think they want Him to come? When He comes He is going to reign in righteousness. I would like to have you tell me to-night of any class of people that would like to have Him come back. Do you think your politicians would want Him? Do you think the Republican party would want Him? Do you think they would give Him a welcome? Do you think the Democratic party would want Him? What would they do with Him? They have not got room for Him; they do not want Him. All this rascality that is carried on in politics would have to be done away with if He came to reign in righteousness.

Does your fashionable society want Him—what they call the "upper ten" of the present time? Go up on one of your avenues to some fashionable party, and see it they want Him. Begin to talk there about a personal Christ, and how precious He is to the soul, and you will not be invited a second time. They do not want Him, and they do not want you if you live godly in Christ Jesus.

The fact is, there is not any room down here for the Son of God. Let a man get up in Congress and say, "Thus saith the Lord," and they will hoot him out of it. Do you think all this trickery and rascality that is carried on in halls of legislation would go on if Christ should reign in righteousness—men selling their votes, men buying votes?

If you will stop and think a little while you will find that not only this country, but no other country, wants Him. Do you think England wants Him? I think that hellish traffic of liquor would have to be given up; the opium trade with China, and a great many other things would have to be given up. That is called a Christian nation. Let a man get up in Parliament and say, "Thus saith the Lord," and he would be hooted down. The cry of the nation is, "Who is the Lord that we should obey Him?" The voice of the king of Egypt has been echoing through the world ever since. The world has not room for Christ.

When He was here and went from village to village, and from town to town, He did not receive a welcome; they did not want Him.

Eighteen hundred years have passed since then; His Gospel has been proclaimed over hill and dale; men have gone across seas and deserts and into all lands proclaiming the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and yet there are a great many people right within the sound of the Gospel that do not want Him. The moment that you begin to preach about the Son of God they put on a long face, as if you had brought them a death warrant; makes them gloomy. Oh! how the devil has deceived the world! How men are under the power of the god of his world! Jesus Christ did not come to cast us down, but to lift us up. He did not come to make life dark and gloomy; he came to make life sweet and beautiful; and when people make room in their hearts for the Son of God he will light them up. The heart that is sad and cast down will be light and joyful. He came to bless the world. He that was rich became poor for your sake and mine. He might have come with all the pomp and glory of that upper world. He might have been born in a palace and fed with a golden spoon. But He passed by palaces and went into a manger, that He might get down into sympathy with the poorest and the lowest. His cradle was a borrowed one. The guest chamber where they instituted the supper was a borrowed one.

The beast upon which He rode into Jerusalem was a borrowed one. The only time we hear of His riding was on a borrowed beast. We find also that the sepulcher that they laid Him in was a borrowed one. The house He lived in was a hired one or a borrowed one. He that was rich and had all the glory of that upper world, who Himself created the world, became poor for your sake and mine.

He laid aside all the honor and glory He had in that upper world; He laid aside those robes and came down here and tasted of poverty for your sake and mine, and yet the world turn up their noses and say, "I have no desire for Him; I don't want Him." There is a passage in the 7th of John—I think the 7th and 8th chapters never should have been divided—the 7th chapter closes up in this way —he had been lifting the standard very high that day, and many of his disciples left him. "Every man went into his own house, and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives," the opening of the 8th chapter says. I can imagine that night was one of those lonely nights. He came into the world to bless the world, and the world didn't want to be blessed. He came to do men good, and they didn't want to receive any thing from Him. "And every man went into his own house.'' Every door in Jerusalem that night was closed against Him. At one time he said, "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." Think of it—the little bird you see flitting by you has its nest—its home; the fox has its hole, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head. I used to think I would like to have lived in that day. I would like to have had a home in Jerusalem to have invited Him to be my guest, and to sit at His feet as Mary did, and let Him talk to me. But I suppose if I had lived at that day my door would have been closed against Him. But I remember thinking over it some time ago, and the thought came stealing over me: There is one place I can give the Son of God a welcome— just one place, and that is my heart. It is the only place He wants to dwell. Now if we make room in our hearts for Him, He will gladly come and dwell with us.

There was a woman right in the midst of this darkness, when many disciples left Him, who came and invited Him to her home—a woman by the name of Martha, I can imagine Martha coming from Bethany one day, and going to Jerusalem to the temple to worship, when the great Galilean Prophet came in, and she listened to His words, who spake as never man spake. And as the words fell from his lips they fell upon Martha's ear, and she says: "Well, I will invite Him to my house." It must have cost her something to do that. Christ was unpopular. There was a hiss going up in Jerusalem against Him. They called Him an impostor. The leading men of the nation were opposed to Him. They said He was Beelzebub, the lord of filth. They said He was an impostor, and a deceiver. And yet Martha invites Him to her home. I hope there will be some Martha here to-night who will invite Him to her home, to be her guest. He will make your home a thousand times better home than it has ever been before.

Martha invited Him home with her. We read of His going often to Bethany. That one act will live forever. The noblest, the best, the grandest thing Martha ever did was to make room in her home for Jesus Christ. Little did she know when she invited the Son of God to become her guest who He was; and when we receive Jesus Christ into our hearts, little do we know who He is. He is growing all the while. It will take all eternity to find out who He is.

There was a dark cloud then over that home in Bethany. Martha didn't know it. Mary did not see that cloud. It was fast settling down upon that home. It was soon going to burst upon that little family. The Savior knew all about it. He saw that dark cloud coming across that threshold. We read that He often lodged there. But a few months after He became their friend and guest, Lazarus sickened. The fever laid hold of him. It might have been typhoid fever. You can see those two sisters watching over that brother. The family physician is sent for to Jerusalem, and he comes out and does everything he can to restore him to life and health; but he sank lower and lower. Some of us know what it is when the doctor comes in and feels the pulse, begins to look very serious, and takes you off into another room, away from the patient, and tells you it is a critical case. Martha and Mary passed through that experience. There was no hope, and Lazarus must die. They thought if Jesus were only there he would rebuke this disease. He might keep death from taking away their only brother. They sent a messenger a good ways off to tell Jesus his friend was sick, and this was the message: "He whom Thou lovest is sick." They do not ask Him to come. They knew Jesus loved him, and He would come if it was for their good. The messenger at last returned. He found Christ and delivered his message. When he got back, he found that that cloud had burst upon that little home; that Lazarus was dead and buried. I see those two sisters as they gather around the messenger. They said, "Did you find Him?" "Yes, I found Him." "What did He say?" "He said the sickness was not unto death, and He would come and see him;" and for the first time I see faith beginning to stagger. Mary says, "Are you sure you understood Him? Did He say the sickness was not unto death?" "Yes." "Are you quite sure?" "Yes." "Well," says Mary, "that is strange. If He is a prophet, He should have known that he was dead. Elijah would have known it. If He was a prophet, why He must have known it. You hadn't been away from the house an hour before Lazarus died. He was dead when you met Him." "Well, that is what He told me. He said He would come here and see him." I see those two sisters as they kept watching for that friend to come and comfort them. How long those nights must have been as they watched and waited. I can imagine they did not sleep through the night. They listened to hear a footfall. The next day they watched and He did not come. The second night passed and He did not come. The third day came and He did not come. The fourth day came and a messenger came running in and says, "Martha, Jesus and His Apostles are just outside of the walls of the city. He is coming on toward Bethany." Martha runs out and says, "If Thou hadst been here my brother had not died. Thou wouldst have kept death away from our dwelling." Jesus answered, "But thy brother shall rise again."

I would give more for such a friend than all the infidels in America. I would rather have such a friend than have the wealth of the world. When death has come and taken my wife and taken my children, to have a voice say to me, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Little did Martha know whom she was entertaining when she invited Christ into her home. The world has been sneering at Martha ever since, but it was the grandest, the sublimest and noblest act of her life. Oh, my friends, make room for the Son of God in your homes. Let the world go on mocking and scoffing. The hour will come when the cloud will burst on your homes, when death will come down in your dwelling and take away a loved mother, a loved child, a loved father. Then what is your infidelity and atheism? But the words of the Son of God, how they comfort then: "Thy brother shall rise again." "Yes, I know that," says Martha. He had probably taught them of the resurrection. "I know he will rise again, for he was such a good brother. He will rise at the resurrection of the just." Says the Son of God, "I am the resurrection of the just. I carry the keys with Me. I have the keys to death and the grave." And He says, "Where is Mary? Go call her." I hope there is some Mary here that will hear the voice of the Son of God call to-night. They ran and told Mary Jesus was there. I suppose Mary and Martha talked it all over, for Mary came out and said the same words: "If Thou hadst been here my brother had not died." "Thy brother shall rise again." "Yes, I know he will rise in the resurrection of the just." "I am the resurrection of the just. Where have you laid him?" Look at that company as they went along towards the grave-yard. These two sisters are telling about the last words and last acts of Lazarus. Perhaps Lazarus left a loving message for Jesus. You know what that is. When you go to see friends who are mourning, how they will dwell upon the last words and the last acts of the departed one. You see Martha and Mary weeping as they went along toward the grave, and the Son of God wept with them. He had a heart to weep with those who wept, and to mourn with those who mourned. He is touched with a feeling of our infirmities. He can comfort us in a time of sorrow.

He said, "Where have you laid him?" And they said, "Come and see." And they led the way. He said to his disciples, "Take away the stone." And again those sisters' faith wavered, and they said: "Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he has been dead four days." They did not know who their friend was, and when they rolled away that stone, Christ cried with a loud voice to his old friend: "Lazarus, come forth?" and Lazarus then leaped out of that same sepulcher and came forth. Some old divine said it was a good thing He singled out Lazarus, for there is such power in the voice of the Son of God that the dead shall hear his voice and if He had not called Lazarus by name all the dead in that grave-yard would have come forth. O! what blindness and downright folly for a man or woman to be ashamed of Jesus Christ! O! make a friend of Him who has the keys of death; who has the power to raise our dead friends! Your own time is coming. The hour is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and come forth. It seemed to just pain the heart of the Son of God when he was down here, to find so few people that wanted Him. We read of his looking toward heaven, sighing as he looked toward that world where all honored and loved Him, and it seemed as if He just sighed for home. As He looked around Him, He could see what death was doing. He could see what sin was doing. There was death behind Him, on the right hand and on the left; yet they were so few that wanted Him, so few cared for Him. He seemed to look toward that world and sigh—just longed for the time that God's will should be done on earth as it is up there in heaven.

I would like to ask this congregation, did you ever have this feeling come over you that no one wanted you? I had it once. I remember, when I left my mother and went off to Boston. I want to say, if a man wants to feel that he is alone in the world, he don't want to go off in the wilderness where he can have himself for company, but let him go into some of these metropolises or large cities, and let him pass down the streets where he can meet thousands and have no one know him or recognize him.

I remember when I went off in that city and tried to get work and failed. It seemed as if there was room for every one else in the world, but there was none for me. For about two days I had that awful feeling that no one wanted me. I never have had it since, and I never want it again. It is an awful feeling. It seems to me that must have been the feeling of the Son of God when He was down here. They did not want Him. He had come down to save men and they did not want to be saved. He had come to lift men up, and they did not want to be lifted up. There was not room for Him in this world, and there is not room for Him yet.

Oh! my friend, is there room for Him in your heart? That is the question. There is room for pleasure. There is room for lust. There is room for passion. There is room for jealousy. There is room for the world. There is room for everything but the Son of God—no room for Him. When he made these hearts of yours and mine, He made room enough for Himself, but a usurper has come in and taken possession of His place. When He made this world He made room enough for you and me and for Him, but when He came there was not any room for Him. The only place they could make room for Him was on the cross, and put Him there. The world to-day is a no greater friend of Jesus Christ than it was when He was down here, but if His disciples will only make room for Him, how He will come and dwell with us, and bless us, and lift us up; and He says to us, "If you will make room for me down here, I will make room for you up there. If you will honor and confess me down here, I will honor you in the courts of heaven, and confess you up there in the presence of the Father and the angels."

O! my friends, make room for Him to-night! Do not go out of this house until you have made room for the Son of God.

I saw some time ago an account of a lady that went in to see her neighbor whom she found weeping as if her heart would break. She said to her, "What is the trouble?" "Well," she said, "there is my child. It is fourteen years old to-day. For fourteen years I have watched over and provided for that child. I have not allowed my servants to take care of it. During the past fourteen years there has not been a night but that I have been up some part of the night with that child. I have left society and spent my time at home with that child." The child had not a mind. "But," she says, "if that child would just recognize me once it would pay me for all I have done; but that child don't know me from a stranger.'' Her heart was just breaking, and as I read I thought: How many of us treat God in the same way?

My friends, God has blessed you with health, and a home in a Christian land. He has blessed you with a good wife; He has blessed you with children; He has blessed some of you with property, and you never have looked up once and recognized His loving hand, and said, "Thank you, Lord Jesus."

O! this base ingratitude! May God forgive us, and may we to-night make room in our hearts for the Son of God! Just now when He is knocking at the door of your heart, just pull back the bolt and say "Welcome! Thrice welcome!" and see how quick he will come in. What is he saying? Listen! Hark! Does the heart throb? That is Christ knocking! "Behold, I stand at the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and He with me."

O! sinner, just unlock the door of your heart to-night. Just throw that door wide open and say "Welcome! thrice„welcome, Son of God, into this heart of mine!" and see how quick he will come and dwell with you. He will never leave you; He will never forsake you. In the time of trouble He will be. your counselor. In the time of sorrow He will be your deliverer. If you want "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" make room in your heart for the Son of God. If you want a friend that will help you in the time of temptation and trial, make room in your heart for the Son of God.