“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the days of Herod the King, behold there came to Jerusalem wise men from the East. ‘Where’, they said, ‘is the newly born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in its rising and have come to worship Him.’” –Matthew 2: 1, 2
Bethlehem. Its name means “the House of Bread”, and it sits in a fertile country side, which makes its name fitting. It sits upon a grey limestone ridge more than two thousand five hundred feet high. It had two high ridges at each end and a hollow like a saddle between them, giving it the appearance of an amphitheater of hills around the little town.
Bethlehem had a long history even before the O holy night. It was here that Jacob buried Rachel and set up a pillar in her memory (Genesis 48: 7; 35:20). It was here that Ruth married Boaz (Ruth 1:22) and from Bethlehem she could see her homeland of Moab. But above all, It was the hometown of David (1 Samuel 16:1; 17:12; 20:6); and it was the well of Bethlehem that David longed for when he was a hunted fugitive upon the hills (2 Samuel 23: 14,15).
In the hearts and minds of the people of Israel, Bethlehem was the City of David. It would be from David’s line that God would send them a great deliverer for his people. As the prophet Micah had it, “O Bethlehem Ephratah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who to be ruler in Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
(Micah 5:2) And it was so. (1)
As we remember and sing to the “Little Town of Bethlehem”, we often envision a small barn, some animals, and an angelic child surrounded by his adoring parents, a few shepherds and three kings. But, it was more like a limestone cave, a dirt floor, two exhausted parents, and a group of frightened shepherds from the field. (The kings hadn’t even arrived yet). And a child, very much like our own, cold and wrapped in pieces of cloths, lying in a feed trough.
But from the moment He was born in that small, overcrowded town, under a new star, the world would be changed forever. For God had come to live among us, and the glory of heaven would be revealed in his humble arrival.
Jesus opens the eyes of our hearts and minds so that we can see the truth of God for us; to see who God is and who we are supposed to be. Because of Jesus, we are released from the power of sin and death, and so it is fitting that we should all bow down and worship him as the wise men did so long ago. For born to us in the City of David is our Savior who longs to be re-born in your heart if we accept Him as the Lord of your life.
God bless all of you and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
(1) Barclay, Wm, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1; Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1975. pg. 23,24