History is full of ironies, isn’t it? Wise Men came from the East looking for the King of the Jews. The present king had no interest in vacating his position, so he was pretty disturbed by this line of questioning. He went to the religious leaders and asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born, and they gave him the theologically correct answer: The prophet predicted that he would be born in Bethlehem, the same town that produced David. Wow, they knew their scripture! Wait a minute, let me get this straight: The (present) king of Israel comes to them asking where the Messiah would be born, they give him the answer, and then they went back to their studies of the Scriptures?! Did no one ask “Um, why is the king asking this? And what’s this I hear about these foreign dignitaries following a star here? You don’t suppose. . .?” Nah. Just go back to your studies. Nothing to see here.
You know, with being such a famous place, it’s easy to forget that Bethlehem was not a big city like Jerusalem. Sure, it was the hometown of David, considered the greatest king Israel ever had. But it’s really a misnomer to call it a “city” at all; “town” or “village” would be more appropriate. I mean, the passage today, which caused all the hubbub hundreds of years later, points this out to us: Bethlehem was “small among the clans of Judah.” Actually the old Christmas Carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” pretty much had it right.
But our Lord loves to pick small things and “little” people to accomplish great things in his grand scheme. He uses “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; [he] chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. [He] chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.” Why would he do this? Why not pick some candidates more likely to succeed? Easy—“so that no one may boast before him.”
Let’s camp out on that for a moment. Does that describe you? Maybe you feel that way: foolish, weak, lowly, despised, not even noticeable. Trust me, you are noticed, by at least one person in this world. Actually, you’re noticed by the most important Person in the entire universe. And if those words above describe you, then celebrate! You just moved to the top of his “most treasured assets” list!
Just a random thought here: You remember what “Bethlehem” means? It’s “house of bread.” Maybe it was locally famous for the wheat or bread made there. Whether or not that’s true, has there ever been a place more aptly named? From this little “house of bread” which you’d have trouble locating on a map would come the “Bread from Heaven” who would feed us all.
And that brings us to the climax of this passage. From this little town would come the greatest ruler of all. This is not just another human king who’s here today and gone in a breath. We’ve had good kings (like David and Hezekiah) and lots and lots and lots of bad ones. You know what all those kings had and have in common? They’re either dead or dying. They’re human, and all their accomplishments and crimes will soon be forgotten.
Not this king. He’s human, but he’s more than human. His “origins” (or “going out,” or “activities”) were from of old, even ancient times. That’s absolutely true, but I’d go even further than that—he's from eternity past. He's the Co-Creator of everything seen and unseen, and he’s coming to rule. Yes, our salvation is essential to his plan. But his ultimate goal, the purpose to which everything else leads? It’s to rule.
Lord Jesus, I thank you and praise you that you can and will use me, even me, in your grand and glorious plan. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
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