The Discoveries at Bethlehem!
“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem.”—Luke 2:15.
An artist was painting a picture of wintry twilight: the shades of darkness were falling fast, the trees were heavily laden with snow and a raging storm was howling in fury. A dreary, isolated, dark house—forlorn, forsaken and forbidding—was silhouetted against the somber landscape.
It was a sad, dejecting, repelling picture. A few friends who were watching almost felt the depression.
Then, with a few deft touches of bright yellow paint at each window, the entire scene was transformed into a vision of comfort and good cheer. The light streaming from the windows was magical.
So it was with the coming of Christ. The world, then as now, was dark with sin and unbelief; the wintry blasts were howling dismally.
Leave Christ out of the picture today and you have the same setting: all is dark, cold, forlorn, hopeless. He put light into a cheerless scene. He came as the light that shines in darkness. He is the Light of this dark, sin-cursed world!
The Drama of Bethlehem
Let us now go even to Bethlehem and see what we can see. First, we’ll see there the true wisdom of God. His star guided the wise men to Bethlehem—and truly wise men ever since have come to Christ.
The story of Bethlehem is a tapestry woven of stable straw and starlight. It is a drama featuring God and the virgin Mary. It was accompanied by a strange intermingling of angels’ songs and the bleating of sheep, the glory of God and swaddling clothes.
What wisdom we find here, expressed in strange paradoxes. The mighty God came as a Babe; the eternal Word became flesh; the Creator came as a Creature; the King came as a Servant; the Lord of Heaven came veiled in the rags of poverty! That was true wisdom.
The Deity in Bethlehem
The sages and religious people in ancient Athens put up an altar “to the unknown god.” The wisest people of antiquity could not, by their wisdom and by their searching, find God.
So, one repeats the statement of Paul: “Great is the mystery of godliness” (I Tim. 3:16) that God should reveal Himself first of all as a Babe—a Babe in a manger. Truly the ways of God are past finding out.
Robert G. Ingersoll, the notorious agnostic of the nineteenth century, gave the funeral oration at the burial service of his brother. Here is a paragraph often quoted that gives the gist of his oration:
Life is a dark, barren vale between the ice-clad peaks of two cold eternities.
We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We wail and cry in the dark.
Faith tries to see a star and hear the rustle of a wing, but the only sound we hear is the echo of our own voice.
But God has let a star shine in this “dark, barren vale between the ice-clad peaks of two cold eternities”—and that star points to Christ. Here at Bethlehem is the answer of God to man’s every need. Here is the wisdom of God, the love of God, the power of God, the Son of God.
If you will accept the simple, clear teaching that the Babe at Bethlehem was the God-Man, the divinely appointed and divinely given Savior of the world, you will have the light of God, the light of Heaven to illuminate your pathway and guide you home.
The Distinctiveness of Bethlehem
Let us go even to Bethlehem to see the love of God. A man defined love as that state of mind which seeks to benefit those loved without seeking anything for itself. Certainly, that is true here: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God came not to get but to give. He came not to be served but to serve and to give His life on the cross a ransom for many.
If Rome be famous for its laws, Athens for its art, London for its commerce, Damascus for its antiquity and New York for its skyline and skyscrapers—then Bethlehem is justly famous as the birthplace of the Savior of the world.
Hope for humanity was born in Bethlehem; peace and goodwill were born there; love was born there; wisdom was manifested there. Surely, Bethlehem is well named: Bethlehem means “the house of bread”; and Christ, the Bread of Life, came forth from Bethlehem.
The Discoveries at Bethlehem
Let us now go even to Bethlehem and see true faith. When the shepherds heard the angels’ message, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” they never doubted.
They said, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass” (Luke 2:15). They believed the heavenly messengers. They had true faith, never doubting.
Today, in an age of doubt, many are saying, “Let us go and see IF this thing is true.” And then, when they see the Babe, they turn aside; and like the hardened worldlings of old, they have ‘no room in the inn’ for Jesus—and no room in their hearts either.
When the wise men came from the East, they too had true faith. They said, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star…and are come to worship him” (Matt. 2:2)
Joseph had the true faith. Since the angel of the Lord told him that Mary’s Babe was to be the Savior, when the Babe was born, Joseph “called his name JESUS”—which means “Jehovah is my Saviour” (Matt. 1:25).
Mary had the true faith. When told she had been chosen to give birth to the Savior, she humbly said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46, 47).
Let us go even now to Bethlehem and see God manifest in the flesh. Let us go and see the Savior of mankind, who was to die for our sins. Let us go and see the world’s coming Ruler:
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”—Mic. 5:2.