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The Babe From Bethlehem Luke 2a

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Luke 2:1-7

Stephen Caswell © 2000

He Was One Of Us


Robert Stevenson, the famous Scottish engineer and grandfather of the well-known writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, was born in 1772. One hundred years after his birth, a great demonstration was held in Newcastle. There was a huge procession with banners honoring the distinguished engineer. In the procession was a group of peasants who carried a small banner on which were written the words: He was one of us. They were citizens of the tiny village of his birth, and they had come to do him honor. They had a right to call him one of them because he, who was so highly honored, was really one of them.


Today is Christmas Eve so I would like to look at Christ's birth. Famous people are often associated with a town or city. This might be where they achieved something great or it might only be their place of birth. In the Bible one's birthplace was often significant. This is certainly true of our Lord Jesus Christ! He was born in Bethlehem a small town some five miles south of Jerusalem. Luke 2:1-3 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

At first glance you might not think that Jesus birth place was important. After all Caesar was the one who commanded them to go there. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth of Galilee. From first appearance it looks like Caesar had more to do with this than the Lord. However God had decreed that His Son would be born in Bethlehem some 7 hundred years before through the prophet Micah. Caesar was really obeying God's decrees not vice versa. Today I want to look at how Bethlehem is significant for at least 3 reasons. Bethlehem relates to three aspects of our Lord's ministry.

I.  He Is Our Savior  II.  He Is Our Shepherd   &   III.  He Is Our Sovereign

Firstly     He Is Our Savior          

Luke 2:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

The name Bethlehem means fruitfulness, and House Of Bread.  The name, house of bread is very significant. Many farmers grew barley and other grains around Bethlehem. Boaz was a farmer that grew his crops there. Even today, bread is one of the necessities of life. People die without food to nourish their bodies.

Cruel “Bread” Of China

During the great famine of China, the people made “bread” from a kind of edible earth. But this ingredient was devoid of any nutrients, so those who ate the loaves, starved. Meyer also refers to the nardoo plant which grows in Australia. The spores of this clover fern can be made into bread and porridge. But they contain no proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins—the essentials for sustaining life. Those who depend upon it for food will have their stomachs filled, but they’ll eventually die. Bread must be nourishing if it is to sustain life!

When God offered salvation to His people, He described it as food in Isaiah 55:1-2 Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. 

To receive God's salvation we must forsake our own works and come to the Lord. We must totally rely on Him. We have no money with which to buy God's salvation, but He offers it freely to all who will come and receive it. But how does this relate to Jesus Christ? In one of His great discourses on salvation Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life. John 6:47-51 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.


People die if they don't eat and sustain their bodies. The same is true spiritually. We need food for our souls. Only Jesus Christ, the living bread can give life to your souls. When people eat bread they receive the food within. So too, every man woman and child must receive Jesus Christ within by faith. Jesus equated belief in Himself with eating the living bread. When someone believes in Jesus Christ they receive Him into their lives by faith. Only Jesus Christ can give us eternal life. Only He can sustain our souls for eternity. 1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.


City Or Son


For a long time, the Mohammedans had been laying siege to the capital of Spain. Courageously and skillfully King Alphonso led the defense, but by some twist of fate the attackers captured the king’s son. The besiegers made the most of their hostage. The sultan ordered a gallows built in full view of the capital. The young prince was forced to stand under the words: Alphonso, either the city or your son! What a decision for a father to make! Anxiously his advisors and officers watched the face of their king. Will he give up the city and allow the enemy to slay or enslave his people? Or will he give up his own, dear son? They had not long to wait, for King Alphonso decided quickly. Back to the sultan went this message: Let my son die, that my people may live! live!



Firstly, Jesus Christ was born to be our Savior. Have you received the bread of life? Only Christ can satisfy the hunger in your soul! Only the Savior can give you eternal life! What keeps you from receiving His free gift of salvation? Will you receive Him today?


Secondly  He Is Our Shepherd       

Luke 2:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

Bethlehem is significant for its flocks of sheep. David was a shepherd during his early years.

On that first Christmas night shepherd's were the first to hear of Messiah's birth. Many of God's servants were shepherds. People such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob's sons were shepherds along with Moses and of course David. Jesus Christ called Himself the Good Shepherd. The religious leaders answering Herod quoted from the Old Testament prophets when they spoke of Messiah in Matthew 2:6: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel. Shepherds watched over their flocks to protect them from danger. They lead them to suitable pasture and fresh water. David cared for his flock this way when he protected them from a lion and a bear. The Shepherd risked his life for the sake of the sheep.

John 10:1-5,11-18 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.


The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

The Messiah came to care for the sheep. Although He is God's rightful King He rules like a shepherd with gentleness and love. He is not harsh or selfish with His sheep. The Good Shepherd watches over the sheep with loving concern. Sheep aren't very smart. They tend to wander away from the shepherd and get themselves lost or in danger. So Christ came to seek and save lost sheep like you and me. Once the Good Shepherd has brought us into the fold He continues to watch over us. He leads us into pasture and cares for us along the way. The parable of the one lost sheep describes His great concern for us. Jesus saw the people of Israel as sheep without a shepherd. He longed to bring them under His protective custody.

Sheep Follow The Shepherd

During World War I, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, suddenly awakened to see his sheep being driven off on the other side of the ravine. He could not hope to recapture his flock by force single-handedly, but suddenly he had a thought. Standing up on his side of the ravine, he put his hands to his mouth and gave his own peculiar call, which he used to gather his sheep to him. The sheep heard the familiar sound. For a moment they listened and then, hearing it again, they turned and rushed down one side of the ravine and up the other side toward their shepherd. It was impossible for the soldiers to stop the animals. The shepherd was away with them to a place of safety before the soldiers could do anything about it - all because they the sheep knew their masters voice. They followed their shepherd.

Similarly, Christians have been found by the Good Shepherd. 1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.


Secondly, Jesus Christ came to shepherd His sheep. He is concerned for all who have wandered astray. Have you come to the Good Shepherd? Are you following Him?

Thirdly     He Is Our Sovereign

Many famous people are identified with Bethlehem. Rachel, Jacob's favorite wife gave birth to Benjamin there and consequently died. Rachel was buried there. Boaz and Ruth lived there. In fact they are grandparents of Jesse the father of David the King. And of course ultimately the Messiah descended through this family line. Luke tells us that Jesus Christ descended from David's house and line. Both Joseph and Mary were descendants of David.  Jesus was born in the city of David as Micah foretold.


Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.

Jesus Christ was born to be king. Therefore He is the rightful heir to the throne. God promised David that the Messiah would descend from His line. Later, Gabriel confirmed this prophecy to Mary. Luke 1:30-33 Then the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a King, He replied that He was born for this purpose. Jesus Christ has proven that He has the character and the power to rule. Let us therefore submit to our King! 


Emperor And Beggar

Peter the First, emperor of Russia, was a man of energy and great ideas. With all his great works for the good of his country, he was subject to strange moods. One Christmas Eve he decided to play the part of a beggar in a certain village. From door to door he tramped asking for help. Everyone had good excuses why they could not receive the disguised king into their homes. Only one poor man showed him any kindness. The next day the royal carriage came to a stop before the door of that poor home, and the man who had befriended Peter the Great was invited to live in the palace at Moscow. The king rewarded him for his good deeds.


At Christ's first advent Israel rejected her King. They wanted a King who would deliver them from the Romans. They wanted a powerful king and therefore failed to recognize God's anointed King who came meekly riding on a donkey. So the kingdom was postponed. But the kingdom of God will soon come and Jesus Christ will reign from David's throne as was promised. At His second advent Christ will come in majesty and power. When Jesus comes again He will be King of kings and Lord of lords. He will rule over all the world. He will reward those who willingly submitted to His rule. How then should we respond to our King? By submitting to His rule today. By asking Him to be King of our hearts and serving Him.

Psalm 2:1-12 addresses this: Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.



Thirdly, Jesus Christ was born to be our Sovereign. He has shown that He is worthy to rule the world. At His first advent He proved His worthiness through His upright life and sacrificial death. Therefore, God has ordained that His Son will rule over an everlasting kingdom. This has been foretold in the prophets and confirmed in the New Testament. Have you submitted to your Sovereign? Have you asked Him to be King of your life? Or are you living in rebellion to Him? We need to take the warning in Psalm 2 very seriously because all rebellion will be punished severely! Will you submit to Jesus Christ your Sovereign today?


I.  He Is The Savior           

Firstly, Christ was born to save us from our sins. He came to give us eternal life and satisfy the longing of our souls. He is the bread of life. Have you received Jesus as your Savior?

II.  He Is The Shepherd        

Secondly, Christ, was born to lead His people into green pastures. The Good Shepherd watches over His sheep. He protects them from danger. Are you are you listening to His voice? Are you obeying Him? Are you following your Shepherd?

III.  He Is The Sovereign

Thirdly, Christ was born to be King. He is sovereign over all the world. One day as King of kings and Lord of lords Jesus Christ will crush all rebellion. Have you asked Him to be King of your heart? Have you submitted to His rule? Or are you living in rebellion? 


Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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