“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 2:4).

If it wasn’t the least likely place, it was very close to it.

Bethlehem was an “on the way” place. You passed through Bethlehem because you were on the way to or from Jerusalem. Bethlehem was indeed a “little town,” as described in the familiar Christmas carol by Phillips Brooks. Although well-known as King David’s birthplace, the town itself was home to a few hundred permanent residents. The various inns and guest rooms were full of pilgrims on their way to other places to pay the census tax required by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-3).

When God chose Bethlehem as the birthplace for his Son, he taught us something about the values of heaven. If God had wanted worldly pomp and ceremony, Jesus would have been born in Rome. If he had wanted good standing for his Son, he would have chosen Athens. If he had wanted religious acclaim, he would have chosen Jerusalem.

Or he could have chosen Alexandria or Antioch. The Roman Empire was filled with great cities.

But he chose Bethlehem, an out-of-the-way location. Even in Israel, Bethlehem was “least among the clans of Judah.”

But our God is not a frontrunner. He doesn’t need worldly power to accomplish his purposes. When Jesus was born, the world paid no attention to a young couple giving birth in a stable in some tiny village in a backwater province of the Roman Empire. No one noticed the baby wrapped in rags sleeping in a feeding trough.

In such an unlikely way, God moved into our neighborhood and became one of us. God’s ways are not our ways. If you doubt that, take another look at that sleeping baby. He will one day rule the world.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.

 O Lord, you are the God of great surprises. Thank you for sending Jesus to save us from our sins. Amen. 

 Musical bonus: Here’s an amazing Christmas song filled with God-honoring truth. Check out Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery featuring Matt Boswell and Matt Papa.

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