Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem
By Kurt Bomer
Micah 5:2 tells us that the little city just 5 miles outside of Jerusalem would be the birthplace of the messiah.
The Wise Men spent upwards of a year traveling to arrive in Jerusalem. Then they sought directions to this place from the Jewish Scribes, who correctly identified it as the birthplace. Did you ever stop and wonder why the religious leaders didn’t go themselves? To them, it was only 5 miles away. They knew the Scriptures but that wasn’t enough. It isn’t enough today.
My first point is this. We can easily be like them. We know the Word. We know what we should be doing, but we stop there. We know the greatest commandment…but are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?
But, anyway, the Wise Men got there and found Jesus. Because of that event, the city is a top destination spot for Christians around the world and has been for 2,000 years. What is the little town of Bethlehem like? Unfortunately, it’s not like the words of the song.
Tourists flock to see this quaint little town but did you know that Bethlehem has made the top five list of “the most disappointing cities in the world”. They go there expecting to see something special but are disillusioned because it’s just another Middle Eastern town. They go into the church of the Nativity, assuming it will be awesome. But as they walk in, they see the church itself divided into three sections (Catholic, Eastern, and Russian Orthodox) because these three groups have been fighting for centuries over who should control the site. And objects are hanging from the ceiling that looks like Christmas tree ornaments in a garage sale. The scene is complete with hawkers trying to sell you cheap souvenirs. With church groups fighting and dusty relics hanging, no wonder Bethlehem appears to be disappointing.
But wait, it’s perfect! He was born in a stable. I’ve been in them. They stink. There are cow patties everywhere which means there are flies everywhere. But it had to be so.
This brings me to my second point. Jesus came to the real world as a real man to help real people. And Bethlehem mirrors reality today. This dirty little town is one of the best-known places in the world for one reason… Jesus was there!
And so too, with you and me, Jesus comes into little people like us–people who are somewhat dusty and smelly and not at all that impressive–and he makes us great, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. We are His.
The disciples were a good picture of this. They started as a rag-tag group of n’er-do-wells and in one short generation, they changed the whole world. The interesting thing about their ministry is that the religious leaders were astounded at them and noted that though they were unschooled, they had been with Jesus.
Jesus has a plan for all of us. We may look like Bethlehem. We may be ignorant like the disciples, but if we will spend time with Jesus there is no limit to what he can do through us.
Do you want to have an impact on the world? Then don’t just know the Word, spend some time with Jesus. It’s all about him.
Kurt Bomar is the pastor of Walnut Grove Church located in Avery County. You are welcome to join them on Sundays at 11:00 AM for worship! (When we are allowed to meet in the building again). You can read more from Kurt Bomar HERE.