Of Course Bethlehem

This year I am bringing a Christmas series titles “Because of Bethlehem.” I have borrowed from the author Max Lucado, the title of his book about Christmas. While I have used the title, that’s probably as close as I will get to his brilliant authorship.

We know that Micah 5:2 tells us the prophecy of where Jesus, the incarnate Christ will be born, just now when. Bethlehem has a history of sorts, for that is where Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob is buried. It is also the city of David. I find it interesting that while the prophet foretold the location of the Messiah’s birth, many were not looking for the Messiah. Now we can make the connection, but even while Jesus walked the earth, the Jews also had His birth in Nazareth of Galilee.

But why Bethlehem? It is an obscure place, some 5 miles distance from the mighty renowned Jerusalem. In Micah it even tells us the Ephrathah was so small a clan of people; they were not even counted or included in the Promised Land division.  It is like the Lord, for in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 we find that our Father uses people and places that the world overlooks. Significant in His plans but lost in ours.

If it weren’t for Bethlehem, we don’t get Calvary. What I mean by this is that if Jesus doesn’t come as the incarnate Christ Child in Bethlehem, we don’t have a Cross crucified Savior.

In John 1:1-4; we read about how that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This brings to mind that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God, co-equal with the Father. By this we must understand that Jesus is both divine and human. In other words He is both flesh and deity. Jesus had to come in the flesh to accomplish the work of the Cross. While He never lost His deity or His power, He did submit himself to the Father’s plan.

In the Old Testament, the sacrifices of bulls and lambs could never deal with sin of fallen mankind; it could only “cover it up.”  The Law and sacrificial system was a shadow of what Jesus would do for us at Calvary. Man cannot save himself. We had to have a Savior. The plan of God from the Beginning always included the Son of God descending to earth to accomplish redemption’s plan of salvation. We celebrate Bethlehem for that is where our salvation begins. In an obscure village, with two unknown parents; graced with the challenge of raising the Son of God – raising the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world.

There must always be a starting point for restoration and reconciliation – the Old Testament sacrifices were inadequate. That which needed to be accomplished required God’s intervention and initiative – The father Sent Jesus! There must be a Calvary for all of us, but likewise there must be a Bethlehem. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as the ONLY begotten Son, sent by the Father!”

Because of Bethlehem, we have a Calvary and because of Calvary we were delivered from our sins and restored to a joyful relationship with God. But it was God who started this all so long ago – Romans 5:8, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, the godly for the ungodly.” Surely God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten [one of a kind, unique] Son; that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life! Praise God for His infinite wisdom and love for us.

Merry Christmas my Beloved family in Christ!

Pastor Jim

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