We know why Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. The Roman Emperor had called for a census and everyone had to go to the city of their family heritage. For Joseph, it was Bethlehem, the City of David. Doing this, God fulfilled many prophecies — the main one being in Micah 5:2. OK, then why are the shepherds the first ones to hear the announcement of Jesus’ birth? That’s where a big significance of the location comes in.
The sheep that those shepherds raised and cared for were special sheep. Because Bethlehem was so close to Jerusalem, where the temple was, the main livelihood there was raising sheep. The Jewish people were obligated to bring a spotless, sacrificial lamb every year on Passover and sacrifice it at the temple. The shepherds of Bethlehem provided those sheep.
Where else but Bethlehem would the Lamb of God be born?
The Lamb of God
John the Baptist was the first one to recognize Jesus as the Lamb of God:
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”
35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.John 1:29-37 NLT
The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the Word
Why do we need a savior? Jim Denison explains…
Previously we found ourselves held captive and imprisoned by the devil. Sin, in essence, becomes a declaration of allegiance to the enemy’s way instead of God’s way. We were chained, but Jesus came to set us free! Now this is good news from an eternity perspective, that we get to be with God in Heaven, but it’s also incredible news on Earth. We don’t have to live in bondage to the lies of our past, or be held back by the addictions and negative habits of our family. We can live free.
I think we often forget the reality of the spiritual bondage that we were in before Jesus. In Matthew 20:28, it says that Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many. I love that word ransom! It means to aggressively take something back. Jesus came to Earth and through the cross, aggressively purchased our freedom! He ransomed our lives so that we can be free!Jim Denison
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Matthew 20:28 NLT
John told us…
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”John 8:36 NLT
Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who gave His life so anyone who believes in HIM can live with HIM in heaven forever.
All hope is not lost!
Because Jesus has gone to Heaven ahead of us, He’s given us a piece of Heaven in the Holy Spirit in salvation. He is our connection to Heaven while we are still alive here on earth. This world is not our home. Heaven is. But only if you are born again and following Jesus. Otherwise, your eternal home is hell. And that’s the truth.
God doesn’t want you to perish in hell,
that’s why He sent Jesus.
“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”Colossians 3:2-4 NLT
Is Christ Your Life?
He should be.
We can all agree that 2020 was BAD. Yet, we have no idea what’s going to happen in 2021. We do not know if we will see an end to the COVID pandemic — God only knows.
I have a dear friend, in her 60s, who right now is in a medically-educed coma as she tries to recover from COVID. Her husband quarantined himself in his home. That’s how they spent Christmas. I pray several times a day for them both.
I have another dear friend who’s been battling cancer for the last 2 years. She just had another birthday — and she told me, “I didn’t think I’d live to see my 67th birthday.”
Both these ladies are born-again Christians. The one with cancer has a magnificent attitude. She said that if the doctors cure her, she wins. If God takes her home, she wins. It’s a win-win situation!
It’s the same for my friend with COVID. If God works with the doctors to cure her, fantastic! She can go on being the salt and light Christian leader she is. If God takes her home, I’ll see her there eventually — and she’ll be in a much better place.
This world is dark — very dark. However, Jesus came as the true light of the world.
Jesus is the Perfect Light!
As I was driving down from Northern Arizona today, I was listening to a Christmas album and the chorus of the well-known Christmas Carol, “We Three Kings”, really stood out for me. I’ve been singing that song every Christmas since I was kid. Yet, I never got the significance of the chorus till now.
I have a video of the song embedded below. Listen to it, sing along, and grasp the true meaning of that simple chorus.
The Chorus goes…
Star of Wonder,
Star of Light,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Jesus is the perfect light! John’s version of the Christmas story explains the Light’s significance…
4 The Word (Jesus) gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.John 1:4-14 NLT
Paul told us…
“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”Ephesians 5:14 NLT
So, it’s time to wake up people! Stop focusing on this world. Our hope is not in anything that this world can offer! It’s not in the president, any politician or political party. It’s not in any company or country. Our eternal hope is in Jesus. We MUST focus our eyes on Jesus and His light will guide us through this dark world.
Do You Have Jesus in Your Heart?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…