The Significance of Bethlehem

Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see — Bethlehem’s wonder!
Every year the Christian takes, in thought,
the shepherd’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem.
In this district lay the fields of Boaz in which Ruth gleaned.
Here the son of Obed was born. David was anointed in Bethlehem.
Best of all, in Bethlehem, Christ was born and revealed.

It was not without significance that Bethlehem, “The House of Bread,”
should be the birthplace of Him
who had come down from heaven to be the Bread of Life for us,
and that He, who was in after years to be the Friend of the people
and Savior of the world,
to be Himself so distressed as often to have nowhere to lay His head,
should commence His earthly pilgrimage within the precincts of a stable.

Let us ask what it was that the Bethlehem manger contained.

A Transcendent mystery! Thought is paralyzed when it attempts to conceive how the Eternal could become a child of days, how the Infinite could be reduced to dimensions, how the Adorable Creator could become one with His own creature.

Let it kindle our gratitude
that we can understand something of the purpose of this sublime mystery,
if even we  learn little of its manner.
The Son of God became incarnate,
that He might reveal the Father,
that He might exemplify human virtue,
that He might take away our sins,
and that He might be able thereby to make us partakers of His own Divine nature.

– Adapted from Joseph Exell, The Biblical Illustrator: St. Luke (Vol. I, p. 185). London: James Nisbet & Co.

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