Luke 2:1-4 – Characters of Christmas: Backwoods Bethlehem – Part 1

Daily Bible Verse

“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.” (Luke 2:1-4 ESV)

Imagine for a moment that you had power and wealth beyond measure. No limitations. Now, take it one step further. Imagine you could choose the time, the place, and the circumstances in which your children were born. It’s 100% up to you and no one else.

What city? A quiet home? A high-tech hospital?

Now? 200 years ago? Centuries into the future?

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 4, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son.” At just the right time God sent His son into the world to just the right place, and not necessarily in the manner anyone would have expected. God knew the time and place where He wanted to launch His rescue mission by sending His Son, but who would have expected Bethlehem 2000 years ago?

Why not Rome? Rome was the center of the empire—it’s where the Roman emperor and the Senate were based. As a center of world power and pagan worship with its magnificent government buildings, temples, and arenas, surely it would make sense for God to plan His son’s birth-day there.

What about Jerusalem? Jerusalem is the historic capitol and center of religious activity for the Jewish people. It’s where King Herod the Great built his palace and where the rebuilt temple now functions as the center for everything that is culturally and religiously Jewish.

Why not modern-day Manhattan? Time isn’t an issue for God, and Manhattan is considered the capital of the world in the midst of its most globally connected era. Wall Street is there. The United Nations is there. People from around the world have become citizens of this massive city.

Instead, God chose Bethlehem. This relatively unimportant small working class town, located in the rocky hill country 6 miles outside of Jerusalem, in the politically oppressed, and militarily occupied nation of Israel. It had an estimated 500 residents; likely home to more sheep than people. That is where Jesus was born— near the sheep.

Tomorrow, we will continue with the Characters of Christmas series, in Backwoods Bethlehem – Part 2.

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