Bethlehem is an important city in the Bible. Bethlehem in Hebrew means “house of bread.” This community was known for its fertility, its fields and terraces. Bethlehem was referred to in the Old Testament as Ephrat meaning “fruitfulness.” We meet this town at the time when Jacob buried his wife Rachel. (Genesis 35:19) In the book of Ruth we read that Naomi and her daughter-in-law came to live here and would eventually unite their family with Boaz. Boaz and Ruth would marry, and in Bethlehem their great-grandson David was eventually born. (Ruth 4:22) It was here that Samuel anointed David to be king of Israel. (I Samuel 16:13)
Bethlehem is the town to which Joseph and Mary came during the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. We read, “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.” (Luke 2:4) In this community our Savior entered our world. Shepherds came to him on the night he was born. The Magi came to him a few days later. And people would come to Jesus throughout his earthly ministry – they came for healing, for help, and to learn from our Lord. Jesus wanted people to come to him.
People need to come to Jesus to receive the gift of eternal life. Jesus said, “‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)
People need to come to Jesus to have their spiritual and physical needs met. Jesus said, “‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35)
People need to come to Jesus to receive rest in a dark and judgmental world. “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” (Matthew 11:28-30)
People need to come to Jesus for direction. “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)
Coming to Jesus implies that we leave other things behind us. The Lord said, “‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:62) He also said, “‘And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.’” (Matthew 19:29) It’s so much better to come to Jesus than to cling to the past.
Jesus came from heaven to this world so that we might come to Him. This Christmas, like the shepherds and the magi, may we come to Jesus!
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.