Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Bethlehem?

"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." (Micah 5:2).

Why Bethlehem? Of all the places Jesus could have been born, why Bethlehem? And mind you, it wasn't a random happenstance that He was born there -- it was foretold. He was ordained by God to be born there, and the prophets of old declared it. Bethlehem was the chosen city of His birth. But why?

Maybe we might suppose that Bethlehem was chosen specifically because it was so small and insignificant. After all, God seems to take special delight in exalting the lowly and humbling the proud. He forever is taking the things that are foolish and confounding the wise; the things that are nothing, to bring to nothing the things that are thought to be something.

So, maybe this is why He chose Bethlehem. Maybe. But I think there is still something more to this that is worthy of our consideration.

The name Bethlehem means "House of Bread."

Jesus said of Himself, "I am the Bread of Life."

Don't you find it it more than a little remarkable that the Bread of Life was sent down from Heaven to be born in the House of Bread. But there is still one more detail, too important to overlook.

We know that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. But what we may not know is that the manger in which He was placed was actually a feeding trough.

And now the full picture unfolds before us -- the Bread of Life was sent down from Heaven above into the House of Bread, and placed in a feeding trough.

Why? That we might eat and live!

This is what Jesus was talking about when He said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If you eat this bread, you will live forever. The bread that I will give you is my flesh, which I give so that the world may live." (John 6:51)

The plain meaning of the passage is, that by his body and his blood offered in sacrifice for sin, He would procure pardon and life for man; that they who partook of that should obtain eternal life. He uses the figure of eating and drinking because, among the Jews, eating and drinking was expressive of sharing in or partaking of the privileges of friendship.

You hungry? There's a place for you at the table!

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