Bethlehem today is a thriving town, inhabited mostly by Christian Arabs (in name if not in fact). But, in the time of Christ it was a tiny, insignificant town, known only for the fact that it had once been King David’s hometown. How was it that Jesus Christ, Son of God and King of the Universe would choose to be born here in a lowly cow-stall?
10 days ago I stood on the very spot where Christ is reputed to have been born. Less than a mile away is the Shepherd’s field where the angels appeared to announce His birth. Evidence seems to authenticate the site. Perhaps Mary led the early Apostles to the spot where she gave birth to the Savior. They revered it as a holy place.
Rome desecrated the spot and built a pagan temple there after 70 A.D. The Byzantines built a church there in the 4th. century which still stands to this day. If not here, it was certainly somewhere nearby. Exactly what took place there?
I. The promises
A. Genesis 3:15 . . . the seed of woman to bruise the serpent’s head
B. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
C. Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
D. Micah 5:2 (Place foretold) “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.”
II. The provision
A. Announced to Mary: Luke 1:26-35
B. Confirmed to Elizabeth: Luke 1:39-45 (baby leapt for joy!)
C. Confirmed to Joseph: Matthew 1:18-25
D. Note how God moved the powers that be to bring His Word to pass. Luke 2:1-7 (Caesar Augustus was prompted to take a census at precisely this point in time! Joseph just happened to be from Bethlehem!)
E. Verified to the shepherds by the angels: Luke 2:8-16
F. Worshipped by the Wise Men: Matthew 2:1-11
G. Commended by the Father God at his baptism: Matthew 3:13-17
III. The protection
A. The penalty for fornication was stoning: Mary could have been stoned to death and her unborn child would have died along with her; but God moved Joseph to take her to be his wife. (Matthew 1:18ff)
B. Now, a second time Satan tries to take Jesus’ life through Herod’s decree but God sent angels to warn Joseph, (Matthew 2:13-16)
IV. The point
A. What did Jesus stand to gain personally?
1. Could He be any more God than He already was?
2. Could He have become any more wealthy?
3. Did He need anyone’s acclaim?
B. He did it simply because He loved you and He wanted to provide a means for your salvation.
C. He told Pontius Pilate: “Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37)
D. It can be truthfully said of Jesus, “He was born to die!” for He came to die for your sins and mine.
A. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.”
B. Jesus was the greatest gift ever given. “Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for a friend.”
C. In return, I’m asking you to give your life back to Him today.
Image: Daniel BattistonTaken from Dr. Arnold Lastinger’s personal sermon notes collection