Birthplace of a King
I was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana. I will always be "from there." It is the place of my roots, and my birth family still lives there. It's where we go for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I make my home in Dayton, Indiana, but Muncie is home.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea, in Israel. But Bethlehem is not where Jesus is "from." Jesus was raised in Nazareth, Gallilee, and was known as "Jesus of Nazareth." But Nazareth is not where Jesus is "from," either. Jesus' home is heaven. He left all the glory of heaven to take on the limitations of flesh-and-blood in order to become one of us so He could redeem us from sin and death.
Bethlehem was the birthplace of a King! Historically, it was the birthplace of Israel's greatest king, David. Prophecy about the coming Anointed One (Messiah in Hebrew, or Christ in Greek) who would sit on David's throne and reign forever indicated Messiah would be born in David's city - in Bethlehem.
A handful of people knew the truth on the night of Jesus' birth. Mary and Joseph and some scruffy shepherds were all visited by angels who proclaimed to them the greatest news in human history: the baby born in Bethlehem was the Son of God and King of kings!
Think of it. Jesus went from the throne of heaven to a manger in Bethlehem. He was not born in a king's palace in the capital city. He was not born into privilege. He came to us in humility. He was born in Bethlehem, a sleepy village far from Jerusalem or Rome. He was laid in a manger - a feeding trough - because there was no room in the inn.
"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." (Luke 2:4-7 ESV)
There is another Bethlehem where Jesus seeks to be born. It is the Bethlehem of my heart. There is a line in the Christmas hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem, that says, "O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin, and enter in - be born in us today." By faith that trusts Jesus and welcomes Him into our hearts, He is born in us and we are "born again."
The birth of Jesus in a human heart changes everything. A beachhead of love and holiness is established. Sin is cast out. Death is done in. New life begins. A lifetime of growing to become more and more like Jesus is started. Nothing can ever be the same. The longing of God is that every human heart would become the birthplace of a King, and every human life would be a Temple for His presence.
I invited Jesus to come into my life and take up residence when I was 15 years old. I've been walking with Jesus ever since. The King of glory, out of His extravagant grace and not because of any deserving on my part, lives in me and loves through me. It's simply mind-blowing. And yet it is a reality that is more real than the chair I'm sitting on or the air I'm breathing. That the common place of my frail human life would be the birthplace of a King is simply astounding!
No wonder the angel who spoke to the shepherds the night Jesus was born told 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." (Luke 2:10-11 ESV)
My deepest Christmas wish is that every person reading this would invite Jesus in. That every heart would be the birthplace of the King. That Jesus would "cast out our sin and enter in." There is no greater joy and fulfillment than walking with Jesus. Do you know Him?