‘No Room at the Inn’: Jesus, Mary and Joseph (and Job!)

Can you believe it? Several Biblical figures showed up in Sunday’s Rev. Matt Jamison-focused episode of The Leftovers, "No Room at the Inn."

Rev. Matt Jamison as Jesus

The basis of Christianity revolves around the idea that Jesus paid for the sins of mankind with His death on a cross. This would have been a concept that Rev. Matt Jamison was deeply familiar with. He’s dedicated his life to the belief in this idea. When Matt encounters the man shackled in the camp outside of Jarden, he’s visibly shaken.

While the device the man is being tortured on looks to be something from the Middle Ages, the way the man’s arms are outstretched—as well as the wood the device is constructed from—give the scene the appearance of a man on the cross. The device has the word "repent" inscribed on it and the captive is naked locked inside it. While Romans didn’t invent crucifixion, they did often crucify criminals and rebel rousers in the nude as a way of heaping more shame on the person being forced to repent of their wrongdoings.

The image of Matt carrying his wife, Mary, around is not unlike the image of Christ carrying his own cross up the hill he was crucified on. Matt’s compassion, kindness, grace, love and now willingness to sacrifice certainly makes his an image of Jesus on the show. The only way for Matt to free the sinner in bondage was to take his place—and he did—completing his turn as Jesus. Finally, Matt goes away at the end of the episode promising to return one day, just as Jesus does in John 14:3.

Rev. Matt Jamison as Joseph

"No Room at the Inn" also places Matt in the role of the Biblical Joseph, husband of Mary. Carrying his pregnant wife from place to place and trying to find space for her to be comfortable, Matt is virtually in the iconic situation Joseph found himself in the night the Christ child was born. Mary’s pregnancy put Joseph in an awkward situation in the Biblical account of their story, much the way it does Matt.

Rev. Matt Jamison as Job

Finally, The Leftovers continues its portrayal of Matt as Job. Last season, we saw storylines, imagery and metaphors all pointing to Matt as a modern take on this Biblical figure. This season, Matt continues on this path with his sufferings, even going as far as telling a woman in the camp that Job is his favorite book in the Bible, mentioning Job’s wife’s only comment on his situation—that he should curse God and die. Kevin and John appear as Job’s friends in the narrative. As in the scriptural account, John questions God sovereignty, asking if "God likes your wife better than mine?" In this moment, Matt quickly shifts into the Biblical character of Peter, denying the miraculous, telling John he made the story up. The scene resembles Peter’s denial of Jesus in Matthew 26.

As a bonus from the Bible, Matt is also featured as the Good Samaritan in this week’s episode, stopping to help a man having car trouble. Jamison quickly becomes the stranger in need of his own Good Samaritan when the man he was trying to help attacks him and steals his bracelet.

Mary Jamison as Mary

While it’s obvious that Mary Jamison is clearly in the metaphoric role of the Biblical Mary in our story, there are a few deeper connections that go beyond the surface. First, just like Jesus’s mother, Mary is carrying a child that she might not have asked for. Next Mary Jamison’s character is necessarily silent due to her condition. Luke 2:19 says that Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart—inferring that she too was tightlipped about her unusual experiences.

Mary and Joseph had to flee their homeland as King Herod was on a mission to destroy first-born males, due to a prophecy given about the threat a child would pose to the government one day. The baby Mary Jamison carries is also in danger and under great threat. Doctors have given the child little chance of surviving. In a vision Matt has of Mary, she even directly tells him of the baby’s danger. More mysterious, however, is the statement made by a man Matt encounters at the Jarden Visitor’s Center. The man warns Matt: "He will die." Matt’s tenacity and faith that the child is a gift, the very reason Mary woke up, pushes him through the circumstances falling in all around him.

Finally, the Mary of the Bible was forced into a situation where many had doubts about the story surrounding her—that she had conceived and yet maintained her virginity. The story surrounding Mary Jamison is also difficult for many to believe. Did she really wake up for three hours? Did she willingly make lover to her husband, Matt? What caused her to return to her catatonic state? And perhaps most importantly, will she return to the world around and her break free of her condition?

Bucher is active on Twitter and runs his own website.