After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea….. (Matthew 2:1)
This year, weather permitting there will be people making Christmas journeys, travelling to see friends or for many going home for the celebration.
Christmas journey's also took place the first time around. Joseph and Mary left home and security, the shepherds did not have far to travel but they left their sheep without care and protection on the hillside. The wise men left their work in the hands of others and the comfort of their own culture.
But they all came to Bethlehem.
Bethlehem became the central point. It was where the Son of God was born, where he first chose the reveal himself to the world. At first it seems a strange place and we might think God didn't get his logistics right. But God had had Bethlehem in mind for a long time.
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.”
The connection of Bethlehem with King David link it with promises of the Messiah and the name literally means "house of bread" How applicable for a baby who grew to describe himself as the bread of life to be born there.
Had the Son of God been born in the temple, he could have grown up as a Pharisee. There may have been room at a palace but that would have opened him up to the accusation that it is all very well for him to be spiritual he doesn't have to work for a living. The wise men could visit a humble house but a shepherd would not have been allowed anywhere near a palace. Neither were truly welcome at the temple.
As it was the place where Jesus was born was open to all. It wasn't just the location, shepherds belonged to the hills and wise men to universities but they were drawn together into a common bond by the child who they believed to be a king.
I have always loved this quote, “Bethlehem, the place where God was homeless but where all people are at home.”
E Stanely Jones wrote, “When the prodigal son was in the far country he “joined himself to a citizen of that country”; but he himself never became a citizen, he was never naturalized. He knew that it was not his homeland. He was out of joint, orphaned, estranged, starved and homesick. Only when he was in his Father’s arms, a member of his father’s household did he feel he was where he belonged. The only sickness is homesickness. A strange nostalgia is upon humanity and homesickness for God is responsible for most of our other sicknesses, mental, spiritual, physical corporate. God is my home. When I am in him I am at home. When I am out of him I am away from home. I am homesick.”
Let's use the Christmas time to pray again for the many prodigals who need to come home to God through Christ.