June 16, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Saviour at Bethlehem
“Let us go even now unto Bethlehem and
see this thing which is come to pass.”Luke 2:15
The Choice He Made
What a checkered history comes to mind when we think of Bethlehem! The sad and sordid history surrounding it linked with the judges (Judges 17:7; 19:1) and the failure of Elimelech (Ruth 1:1-3) must have rested as a heavy pall over the small city for years. Only the godly character of a Boaz and the fact that it was the origin of David helped to remove some of the stain from its reputation.
But the only Man Who had the option to choose the place of His birth, the time and circumstances, and even His parents, chose Bethlehem. He did this to fulfill a Scripture (Micah 5:2).
He came to poor parents, not middle-class or well-to-do ones. He came at a time of national oppression by the Romans. He came at a time when the world knew little of comforts and ease. Would any of the current generation opt to live at a time when none of the technological advances were even dreamed of being possible?
Yet He chose to come then and there! Elsewhere we are told that this was the “fullness of the time” (Gal 4:4), and it was the “end of the world or ages” (Heb 9:26).
The Change that Occurred
Micah’s prophecy foretelling the place of His birth makes it clear that Bethlehem would be the sight. Micah referred to Bethlehem as “little among the thousands of Judah” (5:2). Yet, when it is quoted by the scribes in the New Testament, they said, “And thou Bethlehem . art not the least among the princes of Judah” (Micah 5:2). Bethlehem suddenly catapulted from being “little” to not being “the least.” What brought about this change? It was the birth of the Son of God in Bethlehem. His coming changed Bethlehem and gave it a significance that cannot be measured and which will never be forgotten.
The Cradle He Graced
It was at Bethlehem that the Savior was born; and it was of here that those memorable and thrilling words were recorded, that she “laid Him in a manger.” He left heaven’s glory and graced a manger at His birth. Historians and theologians debate if it was a wooden structure meant to hold food for animals or if it was a stone ledge where food was placed for those animals. It matters little. A gold lined crib with a feather-down mattress would have been a step of humility for Him. How much more a manger for a cradle! In His birth He graced a cradle. At His death, He took the most heinous instrument of man’s cruelty, a cross, and attached a glory to it that excels any earthly glory known.
The Consequences that Ensued
Who can measure the consequences of His coming? His words in the upper room, “If I had not come” (John 15:22), send a chill down the spine. What if He had not come? What would life be like? What would eternity be like? But He has come; He came to Bethlehem and then to Nazareth, and finally to cross. And, as John has told us, “The world itself could not contain the books” that would detail the consequences of His coming (John 21:25). You and I are among those “consequences.”