And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.. Luke 2:4-5
Christmastime for me is a time to get nostalgic. The music, the decorations, and the traditions bring a flood of memories to me.
I especially remember the Christmases when I was a young boy.
I have two memories of Christmas in California in the late 1960’s. Trudging in the mud to get a Christmas tree and playing a shepherd in our church’s Christmas play.
I have memories of Christmases from the time my family lived in Long Lake and worshipping at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School.
My most vivid memories of Christmas as a younger man were the Christmases spent in Lake Villa (I still remember so vividly the year we got an Atari 2600 console!).
This past August, I took my family on vacation to Michigan and we visited the birthplace of our oldest son, Eddie – where he spent his first Christmas and where he was baptized.
I don’t know if Jesus ever returned to Bethlehem as an adult – we don’t have any evidence in Scripture or elsewhere that he did – but I like to think that he made at least one visit back to his birthplace.
It is something that most people do. Visiting the places we lived, and especially the places where we were born, can be a solidifying thing to do. It grounds us. It helps us understand that we have roots.
It also is helpful to know where we came from as we travel to where we are going.
Our epic journey of Biblical proportions now takes us to Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is where the journey has been leading us all along. This journey was set in motion thousands of years previous. But the journey doesn’t end here!
This is the pivot point of the journey.
As the government gets involved, it is according to the plan of God and this is how he gets Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
Bethlehem was the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah.
The prophet Micah wrote:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2
Bethlehem was also the birth place of King David and the Messiah was to be a descendent of King David, so it all fits.
The word Bethlehem means, in Hebrew, “house of bread.” A most appropriate place for the “Bread of Life” to be born, don’t you think?
Today Bethlehem is not in Israel but is in the country of Palestine. It has mostly Arabic-speaking people. The word Bethlehem means, in Arabic, “house of meat.” Slightly different from the Hebrew but still quite appropriate as the name of the birthplace of Jesus.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53
Whether “house of bread” or “house of meat”, the little town of Bethlehem’s most famous citizen came to give us both – bread and meat – from heaven and, in doing so, forgives all our sins.
Christmastime is an excellent time to remember that as well.
While Thomas Wolfe was correct, “You can’t go home again” – meaning we can never return to the way things were – we can visit the past on occasion.
Christmastime is a chance to visit where we once were in order to know more fully what is coming and where we are going.
When we revisit Bethlehem, we can understand that Jesus became one of us, to be just like us with one important difference. He was perfect, without sin.
But he was perfect for us! He came to be among us to give us new life and eternal life in heaven.
As we now arrive in Bethlehem, let us linger for a moment and celebrate this incredible story of God, the story of our salvation.
©2016 True Men Ministries