Why in the world did God choose to have His Son born in Bethlehem?
He could have chosen Jerusalem. The Holy City was then home to the Temple, and the epicenter of all things religious. For that matter, He could have chosen Rome, Athens, Corinth, Alexandria, or any number of major metropolitan centers of ancient world influence.
Why in the world did God choose Bethlehem?
Well, for the answer to that singularly significant question, we have to go all the way back to the beginnings of the Bible. There you will read this in Genesis 14:18, about Abraham and his first meeting with the mysterious Melchizedek, the king of Salem, Shalom, Peace. Arguably the first reference in the Bible to what would later become the City of Peace, Jeru-salem…
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
Hmmm. What were they doing, Abraham and Melchizedek? Certainly not celebrating Communion with that bread and wine. And more to the point, What does this baffling bit of trivia have to do with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem?
On the surface, nothing. Dig a little deeper, it means everything.
The backstory of their tête-à-tête is straightforward and rather simple: Returning from a period of conflict over the capture of his nephew Lot, Abraham now craved a much-needed period of peace. So did Melchizedek. In order to establish an unbreakable bond of peace, in order to confirm an indestructible contract of commitment to one another, in order to seal a deal of an abiding agreement of love and loyalty to one another, Abraham and Melchizedek broke bread together.
The breaking of bread was in biblical times, and is even today in the Middle East, the culturally-binding symbol of a relationship of love, loyalty, and commitment between two parties.
Breaking bread. The sharing of the very sustenance of life with one another, the symbolism of which binds the two lives together in a mutual pledge of life, love, loyalty, and peace.
It is no wonder that bread is specifically mentioned in the Bible 448 times.
It is no wonder that in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us specifically to pray for our daily bread, a regular reminder of the unbreakable relationship of life, love, loyalty, and peace that we now share with God Himself.
It is no wonder that when Jesus fed the five thousand, He broke bread with them.
It is no wonder that Jesus referred to Himself as “the bread of life,” adding in John 8,
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.
“Forever.” An unbreakable bond indeed!
It is no wonder that on the night before the crucifixion, as Jesus shared one last supper with His disciples, He broke bread with them.
It is no wonder that after Jesus was nailed to the cross, as the body of the one who called Himself “the bread of life” was beaten and broken for us, that it can now be said of us who love Him,
We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us (Romans 5:1).
It is no wonder that the first committed Christ-followers (according to Acts 2) broke bread from house to house.
Bread: the God-given, Bible-driven symbol of two persons who desperately long to establish between them an unbreakable bond of life, love, loyalty, and peace.
So it is no wonder that God chose “His only begotten Son” to be born not in Jerusalem, not in Rome or Athens, not in Corinth or Alexandria, nor in any major metropolitan city of great influence. No.
When God sent His Son, He chose to have Him be born in the humble hamlet of Bethlehem. Or as it is called in Hebrew, Beit Lehem, which in English reads, “the house of (Care to make a guess?) bread.”
This is just one of the five Scriptural snapshots of Christmas that we shared with our beloved Safe Haven family last Saturday night. You can hear all five in this podcast by clicking HERE.
From my heart to yours, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!