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For God So Loved!

A Bethlehem Story
Today’s Reading: Luke 2:1–11


Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
(v. 11 NIV)


Christmas is a Bethlehem story. For Matthew and Luke, this little village in Judea was more than the setting for Jesus’ birth. It was an integral part of the first Christmas. The second chapter of Matthew speaks directly of Bethlehem five times and the second chapter of Luke four times—calling it either “Bethlehem” or “town of David.”

Of all the things they could have highlighted from Jesus’s early life, why do these Gospel writers so forcefully direct us to this detail?

First, because Bethlehem is the village in which God promised Jesus would be born.

“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).

But there is more. The repeated mention of Bethlehem associates the birth of Jesus with the idea of solution. This link grows out of two Old Testament stories which also mention the town repeatedly.

The story of Ruth and Naomi, told in the short book of Ruth, mentions Bethlehem seven times. Here God provides a family with a much-needed marriage solution. The introduction to David, found in 1 Samuel 16–17, links him to Bethlehem six times. In this case, God used Bethlehem to provide a nation with new leadership. People expected solutions from Bethlehem, and the town delivered again at the time of Jesus’ birth, which provided the world with a remedy for its sin.

If you feel the need for a solution, come to Bethlehem. The Christmas story is a Bethlehem story. And that makes it a solution story.

John A. "Jack" Beck
Bible Atlas