S-1464 3MIA/3B 12/17/2014 Hymns: (O) #62; (S) 647; (C) #56
Texts: Psalm 80:1-7; Micah 5:2-5; Luke 1:39-45
Theme: “Chosen to be Humbled” (Micah 5:2)
Question: “Have you ever been humbled by someone’s request?” 3rd in sermon series on: “Humility in the Holy Land”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. The text for 3rd Midweek in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
Beloved and beautiful children of the heavenly Father, by the grace of God we have been brought here again, so that we may continue our journey in the Holy Land. Tonight our pilgrimage takes us to an obscure village called Bethlehem. As we make our stop in Bethlehem we realize that we are in the Southern part of the Holy Land—only 7 miles from Jerusalem.
Just outside this lowly village an angel was sent to announce the greatest news ever told with these words: “…Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12). Into sleepy Bethlehem the shepherds ran with haste to see the thing that was told them.
But why did God choose this little, lowly town. Why was Bethlehem chosen and not Jerusalem, Caesarea, Tiberius, or Nazareth? The text that engages us this evening sheds a little light on Bethlehem being chosen to be humbled.
The prophet Micah, 700 years before the birth of Christ prophesied these words: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” God had chosen this little town for a reason that He will reveal to us and helps us know the great love the Father lavishes on us.
Bethlehem has a rich history that helps us during this time of the year to pay close attention and focus more thoroughly, especially in the singing of many of the Christmas hymn. But especially, as we just sang our sermon hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
This obscure village has a history that demonstrates how much God cares for His people. Here Jacob buried his beloved wife Rachel (for whom he served 14 years). Here is also is the story of Naomi who returned from Moab with her daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabite?
In Bethlehem the God of heaven cared for the lowly and widows by providing Boaz, her Kinsman-Redeemer. He married the Moabite Ruth and through their union she gave birth to a son, and they called him Obed. Obed gave birth to Jesse and Jesse gave birth to David—who became the 2nd king and shepherd over Israel—God’s own people.
Bethlehem is the house of David and became known as the City of David. In Psalm 110 David writes these prophetic words: “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’” (vs. 4). To be sure the promise given David is fulfilled in the birth of Christ in Bethlehem’s manger.
But again, we must ask the question: “Why would God choose Bethlehem to be THE humble place for the birth of His Only begotten Son? The answer lies in the fact that humble shepherds fit right in with God’s choice of a humble village, and a humble mother named Mary, and a humble step-dad named Joseph.
In emphasizing such details, the heavenly Author of the Christmas story is making a most important point: When it comes to Bethlehem and when it comes to Calvary—where salvation, redemption, reconciliation and eternity are involved—anyone and everyone can have a place in the presence of the One who loved us by the sending of His Son.
In fact, in God’s economy there are places reserved for all people, regardless of their earthly state, station or stature. No one is excluded. The Savior was born, died, and rose again for one and for all—including you and me.
You see beloved, God chose humble Bethlehem, because from it will come the Bread that will feed us forever—for that is what Bethlehem means—“the house of Bread.” From this lowly, little, obscure village comes the One who was foretold from of old and who will rule forever and ever on the throne of His Father David.
Bethlehem was chosen because God chooses to pour out His love upon us. In Humility we see love put in Bethlehem’s manger. From the world, we expect a love that is self-serving and self-seeking—only looking for what it can get out of it. Or a love that is self-rewarding—reaching out only to those who have done or will do something in return. Or a love that’s fickle—that flickers with each shifting wind. The world’s type of love would never in a million years have put the Christ Child into the manger of Bethlehem. But God’s love could, would and did. In the Babe of Bethlehem, birthed in a stable and bedded in a manger we see love’s true light.
Bethlehem was chosen to be humbled because God the Author of lidw demonstrates this love, not because it is such a grand place to live, but in spite of it. The same is true for us as well. God’s love is poured into the manger of our hearts, not because we choose to love Him, follow Him or serve Him; but He does it in spite of us to show that there is not one person who walks this dusty world, that would be excluded from His grace and favor given in His Son—Jesus Christ.
As you and I linger tonight in the lowly town of Bethlehem, I want you to look deeply into the manger. See how real God’s love is for you and for me and for all. Here in this little town we see that God keeps His promises. This is not just talk with no action. Look closer and you will see how far His love is willing to go. All the way from the glories of heaven to a humble stable, on a scratchy bed of straw to save mankind from the eternal destruction of hell.
This evening as we continue to travel in the Holy Land, see how the Son of God humbled Himself for you, in a humble village so that He may lift you up to the home He is preparing for you. What joy fills our hearts as we walk, sing and praise Him who came from heaven above to earth below our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA