O Little Town of Bethlehem
Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Luke 2:15, “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’”
In 1865, Phillips Brooks, from Boston, went to Bethlehem for the first time and visited what was, at that time, a sleepy, little hill village. Two years later, he wrote the song that we all sing every year “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Bethlehem was just an old town. If it had had historical markers, they would've said “birthplace of King David” or “Ruth and Naomi lived here.” But that night it was quiet and dark. The little town – hard for us to imagine in a world of phones, TVs, and cars – was witnessing an invasion of silence. In that blanket of quietness, Mary welcomed the newborn into a stable filled with softly lowing animals. You and I would have never had a Saviour birthed in a place like this. We wouldn't have placed a king in a manger that a sheep grazed out of yesterday. But, that's fine. Jesus didn’t mind the mess. Even today, He enters the disorderly and uncomfortable scenarios of our lives that we can’t clean ourselves. That’s why Bethlehem had to be part of the message.
Bethlehem was also only five miles from Jerusalem and the primary source for sacrificial lambs. Generations of shepherds tended sheep in those fields, setting aside the firstborn, unblemished to be sent to Jerusalem for sacrifice. It is no coincidence that the “lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” (John 1:29) would be born in a manger in a stable in Bethlehem.
Invite Jesus into your mess. Don’t be ashamed of the disorder of your life – talk to Him about it and follow Him as He walks you through it!
Jesus, help me to see You as more than a baby. Help me to see You as my Saviour. Amen.