Kevin Wiens – Family Ministries and Small Groups Pastor
Matthew 2:5-6 & Micah 5:2
“In Bethlehem, in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’
Bethlehem was a small, less than glamourous, shepherd village outside of Jerusalem. But even before Jesus’ birth it had the history of being a famous place. It was the home town to King David, a great king of Israel. So, what is the prophet Micah talking about when he says that a ruler will come forth from Bethlehem? Micah wrote two hundred years after King David had died. Hadn’t the great king of Israel (David) already come and gone from there? When people heard Micah’s prophecy for the first time they could have said, “It’s not a prophecy about the future, it’s already happened.” It would be like me saying to you, “A large church will be built in the Forest Grove area of Saskatoon.” It’s already happened… but we know there is much more to this prophecy?
700 years after Micah’s prophecy Jesus is born in Bethlehem. At the time of Jesus’ birth there were rumours among the chief priests and other scholars that the one who would save Israel from Rome was to be born there (Mt 2:5-6). They knew their scriptures and the people of Israel were counting on Micah’s prophecy to produce another great leader out of Bethlehem. The people of Israel eagerly waited for their political saviour to come and set them free and Herod was ready to cut off any who would be born to challenge him. In the midst of all this no one could have expected what God was really up to. A king, greater than David, was to enter the world to overthrow an evil greater than Rome.
Bethlehem literally meant “house of bread.” Bread is common, accessible to everyone. Jesus, “the Bread of Life,” chose a common place to appear on Earth. We know that out of Bethlehem came Jesus, the greatest King, not just of Israel, but the King of all nations. Jesus’ birth was miraculous in that it fulfilled a 700-year-old prophecy. Yet, at the same time was totally common. A simple birth, to a simple woman, in a simple town. Common shepherds were among the first to worship him. We can quickly see that this was and is the way of Jesus, totally common, accessible to everyone, and yet totally amazing, just like Bethlehem.