Some people make a big fuss about when Jesus was born. The thing is, we are 99% sure that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. The evidence suggests he was born in September-October probably at the Feast of Tabernacles; the time when the Jewish people would remember when God made his dwelling with them in the wilderness. Ultimately, the Bible tells us the year but it is silent about the exact day and I suspect it’s because we’re not supposed to make an idol out of a day.
I would like to suggest that more important than when he was born is WHERE he was born. Do you know where he was born? In Bethlehem. Why there? What’s the big deal?
Do you recall the story about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son? It was a lesson for Abraham about who God really is. Abraham was faithful, he trusted God, and he prepared the sacrifice but at the last moment he was stopped. Then a miracle happened. Close by in a bush was a male sheep – a sacrificial lamb was provided in the place of Abraham’s son! Now that’s where that story usually ends in the Bible but I’m told that in the Quran, it states that there would be another sacrifice beyond Abraham’s son, beyond the lamb provided on that mountain, and it would be a momentous sacrifice; a more excellent, better, sacrifice.
Where would that sacrifice come from? What or who would that sacrifice be? As the story unfolds through time we get more insight about this sacrifice. The prophet Isaiah revealed this momentous sacrifice to be a suffering servant. He wrote:
“He will be led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he won’t open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he will be led away. No one will care that he dies without descendants, that his life will be cut short in midstream. But he will be struck down for our brokenness, suffering, and pain so he can heal all of us.”
And that brings me back to Bethlehem. Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Why were events arranged to get his parents to that town at that time? Why not just stay home where it was warm and safe?
Because Bethlehem was where the sacrificial lambs came from.
And who were the first to hear the Good News? Who were the first to witness this new baby born in a manger? Shepherds – those that cared for the lambs. And when the time came for Jesus to begin his mission, the prophet John the Baptist saw him and told everyone – “Behold! Look! Understand! There is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world.” The momentous lamb had arrived!