Let's Go to Bethlehem and See
A quiet night. A baby's first cry. Shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. An angel of the Lord appears to them. Shekinah glory surrounds them. Good news of great joy. A Savior has been born. A multitude of the heavenly host. Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth.
The shepherd's reaction to the interrupting presence of angels and their message: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15b NIV)
Let's go to Bethlehem and see for ourselves. Let's seek out this baby the angel told us about. Let's make sure we weren't dreaming it all.
And so they journey to Bethlehem and find the Christ child. "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." (Luke 2:16 NIV)
They hurried to see Jesus. They couldn't wait. They were too excited. A Savior was born for them. They had no way of knowing what that would ultimately mean. They could not see the Cross from the hillside outside Bethlehem. They just knew angels had spoken to them. A sign was given. They would find a baby, swaddled and lying in a feeding trough.
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see."
Every human being needs a Bethlehem. Every person needs to meet Jesus for ourselves. It's just not enough to believe in our heads He was born as God-in-the-flesh, He showed us the heart of God and demonstrated the power of God, He died on a Roman cross for the sins of the world and God raised Him from the dead. All that is true. But mental assent is not saving faith.
A personal encounter with Jesus, risen from the dead and very much alive today, makes all the difference. Faith has to travel from the beliefs in our head to trust in our heart.
My Bethlehem was my bedroom in the house I grew up in. After hearing the Gospel at a worship service at church and not responding then and there, I knelt that night beside my bed in the darkness of my own bedroom and asked Jesus to enter my life and forgive my sin. My heart was flooded with peace. I knew that I knew that Jesus died for me and my sins were forgiven. That began a life-long walk with Jesus.
For some, Bethlehem is Vacation Bible School or church camp. For some, Bethlehem is a regular Sunday worship service. For some, Bethlehem is grandmother's lap. For our twins, Bethlehem was the bathtub! One night as children they had a conversation with Shirley about God and wanted to ask Jesus in their hearts. They did so in a few inches of water.
The importance of Bethlehem is not where. The importance is seeing for ourselves.
The last verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem says it well, I think:
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!
Hurry to Bethlehem. See for yourself. Taste and see that the Lord is good. You'll never be the same.