1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”– Matthew 1:1-6
I have read and heard the Christmas story many times, but just recently have these first few verses in Matthew caught my attention. Magi, royal astronomers in the ancient world, have seen a star in the sky, which they believe is the sign of the newborn king of the Jews. Where do they go in search of this new king? Like all of us would, they head to the palace in Jerusalem. Upon their arrival, the Magi see no sight of a new king and the current king is thrown into a frenzy trying to figure out where his new rival was born. The answer is a small, quiet town just south of Jerusalem called Bethlehem.
I believe this part of the story is important not only because it fulfills prophecy (Micah 5), but also because it reveals more about our Savior and God. In His sovereignty, God chose not to have His Son, the King of kings, born in the riches and comfort of Jerusalem, but instead in an animal stable in the “little town of Bethlehem.” Even from Jesus’s birth, our God reveals His desire to show His strength, power, and majesty through the small, weak, and insignificant. One commentator puts it this way, “God chooses something small, quiet, out of the way, and does something there that changes the course of history and eternity.”
What does this mean for us? It reminds us that God loves to use the underdog to bring glory to His Name. Everything that we typically use as excuses – like our height, heritage, or hometown – He sees as opportunities to display His power and glory. Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
- Prayerfully reflect on Jesus’s birth in an animal stable in Bethlehem.
- What weaknesses do you see in your life? Prayerfully consider what it might look like to allow God’s strength into those weaknesses.
- Praise God for coming to us in Christ Jesus!