I was raised speaking of distance in blocks, not miles. My girlfriend (and now wife) lived six blocks (not a half-mile) from me until she was in tenth grade when her family moved to the “boonies” of Sterling Heights. She was not blocks or miles away; she was a whole different city away. Although it was “only” eight miles, in my world, it was forever away. That is almost 100 blocks.
We anticipated going to college, getting married, staying in the Detroit Metro Area, and having our children who would be born at Royal Oak Beaumont. The hospital was a little ways away, but it would be the right choice.
With that being said, our son was born in Dallas, Texas, and our daughter was born in Traverse City, Michigan (1250 miles or 15,000 blocks apart from each other).
It has been said, “You can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” That may be true, but you normally can’t take a man out of the city.
1. Where you raised in the city or country? What was it like?
2. How often have you moved? Do you prefer city of country?
There are over 330 prophecies recorded in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah that have been fulfilled in Jesus. One of the most amazing ones is found in Micah 5:2, “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 says that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
There are three important items about Bethlehem.
Jesus being born in Bethlehem related to prophecy.
Micah was written about 700 years before the time of Jesus. Angela and I could not even predict where our children would be born 15 years ahead of time. I would have laughed if my grandfather had told me when I was young where my children would have been born. However, Micah’s prophecy being 700 years before Jesus, would mean Micah was speaking at about the time of Jesus’ great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. Although it was a town that boasted of having only hundreds of people, Bethlehem would be honored as host of the birth of the Messiah.
3. How far back have you or a relative traced your family tree?
People were anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Matthew 2:4-6 says, “And assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’’”
4. How did the chief priests and scribes know where the Messiah would be born?
5. Does this imply that initially some thought Jesus was the Messiah? Who would this include?
In Luke 2:8-15, angels directed shepherds to go to Bethlehem, “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’”
6. Who did the angels say was born?
7. What significance can there be in God including the shepherds into the scene?
“The miracle of Christmas is not on 34th street;
it’s in Bethlehem.”
Jesus being born in Bethlehem related to world events.
Luke 2:1-7 describes the circumstances surrounding the birth of the Christ, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
8. Why did Joseph go to Bethlehem?
9. Why would Joseph have his pregnant wife make such a difficult trip?
God said the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. So, He needed to have Joseph take Mary there even though she was “great with child.” God chose that year at that time because He knew the whole known world would need to be registered in their home towns. God’s timing is always precise and right.
10. Do you remember a time when God’s timing surprised you?
“Look at the Bethlehem birth.
A king ordered a census.
Joseph was forced to travel.
Mary, as round as a ladybug,
bounced on a donkey’s back.
The hotel was full.
The hour was late.
The event was one big hassle.
Yet, out of the hassle, hope was born.
It still is.”
Jesus being born in Bethlehem related to history.
Jesus’ birthplace tied Him to royalty. In Luke 2:10-11, we read, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”
11. What name did the angels use for Bethlehem?
12. What do we know about David?
Jerusalem could have been a natural choice for the birth of Jesus (probably more inns). However, God chose a city five miles (about 60 blocks) south. He chose Bethlehem. Luke 2:4 says, “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.”
David was from Bethlehem. In 1 Samuel 17:12, we read, “Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.” John 7:42 adds, “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”
Jesus, being born in Bethlehem, aligned Him with everyone from shepherds to royalty. It is an amazing picture.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer made an interesting observation, “There are only two places where the powerful and great in this world lose their courage, tremble in the depths of their souls, and become truly afraid. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ....No priest, no theologian stood at the cradle of Bethlehem. And yet, all Christian theology finds its beginnings in the miracle of miracles, that God became human.”
13. What does the birth of Jesus mean to you?
“One response was given by the innkeeper
when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room
where the Child could be born.
The innkeeper was not hostile;
he was not opposed to them,
but his inn was crowded;
his hands were full;
his mind was preoccupied.
This is the answer that millions are giving today.
Like a Bethlehem innkeeper,
they cannot find room for Christ.
All the accommodations in their hearts
are already taken up by other crowding interests.
Their response is not atheism.
It is not defiance.
It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able
to get on reasonably well without Christianity.”