4 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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.Luke 2:4-5
I just had a conversation with someone who is also from Ohio. They grew up in the northwest part of the state in a town called Sandusky. I know where Sandusky is. But, when I mentioned where I grew up, (Jackson) this guy wasn’t familiar with it. No one ever knows where Jackson is. Even if they’re from Ohio. I have to start naming bigger towns that are nearby until they recognize one. Then I can tell them, it’s 30 minutes south of Chillicothe or 2 hours east of Cincinnati or an hour and a half south of Columbus. If they don’t know any of those towns, I just say “look it up”.
One of the themes of the Christmas story that seems counter intuitive is humility. It’s one of the reasons the Israelites were caught off guard. They were looking for a grand entrance, a massive victory over their oppressors and experiencing firsthand the promise they had been told about their entire lives.
Bethlehem is a part of that humble beginning. Where exactly is Bethlehem? Do you know? Why wasn’t Jesus born in Jerusalem? That is the capitol of the Kingdom God sought to establish, why wasn’t Jesus born there? Why wasn’t Jesus born in Nazareth, people at least knew where it was from. But, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, about an hour and a half west of Nazareth.
It’s an interesting question that we could simply answer with, “Well, that’s what God said He was going to do, so He did it.” And I guess that should be a sufficient answer. But, I always ask why. It’s gotten me in trouble a time or two.
I don’t have a proof text for my opinion, so it is just that, an opinion. But, I kind of think it was this: Jesus wasn’t here to establish His Kingdom, He was here to Establish His Father’s. The point Jesus’ life wasn’t his own popularity. He was here to accomplish the mission He had been given by the Father.
We tend to overemphasize status. We tend to be enamored with the idea of celebrity. Especially today, everyone wants to be famous. Talk to a group of young people, and you’ll definitely hear people who want to be YouTube stars. People questioned Jesus’ validity because he wasn’t chasing the throne. They tried to make Him king by force.
I think that is one of the reasons the story starts in Bethlehem. If Jesus had started from a position of privilege, how would he resonate with the bulk of humanity who aren’t born with that kind of access? Not only was Jesus going to be humble, everything about His story would be humble – including the place of His birth. As an adult, he wouldn’t have a home or a place to lay his head. The end of his life would be the most humiliating death a person could experience.
Jesus’ life wasn’t about Jesus, it was about the Father. It was about the mission of God. It was about something much bigger than himself.
He was born in that little town no one really knew much about. He was the son of an ordinary woman with a father who was a carpenter. By human standards, he was a nobody.
But, His story isn’t over. His story doesn’t end the way it began. And because of His part in the Father’s story, your story doesn’t have to end the way it began either. It’s not so much about where your story begins. It’s about what you do with your beginning.