How Far to Bethlehem?

To get the full meaning of Christmas we must read in a whole lot of books in the Bible.  Many Old Testament books point to it.  Even after the gospels, the epistles point back to the nativity.  After all the “holiday” is over Christmas will still be here.  Aren’t you glad there won’t be a Walmart in heaven!  No matter the news of the day, the news of the angels trumps it all.  They announced the birth and perhaps even the same angels gave the news of the resurrection.

Luke 2: 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Can you remember the time before the technology explosion?  Now many vehicles are equipped with GPS.  I still carry an old compass so I’ll know the direction I’m going.  GPS is supposed to pinpoint your location but many of you will testify that it doesn’t always work.  It’s fallible.  Thank God that every day we’re given explicit directions to take us to Bethlehem, to take us to Jesus.  The herald angels told the shepherds for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  They knew.  Being on the outskirts of Bethlehem watching sheep was a 24 hour job.  I’m glad our Shepherd stays with the sheep.  One of our greatest sins is thinking we can shepherd our own life.

After the news the shepherds looked at one another and said let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  The lights of the glory of the angels were gone and all they had was the starry night.  They were given a decision to make.  What would they do with the angel’s message?  They were the first to know a Savior was born.  Bethlehem was their town and they probably took it for granted.  The angel delivered a message from God Almighty to go to Bethlehem.  They all said it. Let us go to Bethlehem.   I can hear each of them say “that’s what I was going to say.”  We get so much on our minds and we can’t switch it off.  None of us has forgotten where Jesus is.  God has made it known to us.  Even back then some knew:  Zacharias and Elisabeth knew.  John the Baptist knew even in the womb who Jesus was.  We do as well.  How far is it to Bethlehem?  Everyone thought the Messiah would be born in Jerusalem.  They had forgotten Micah’s message in chapter 5 verse 2 that says that he would be born in Bethlehem.

God told us.  He didn’t hint.  Isaiah said a virgin would conceive and bare a son.  The question need not have been asked.  Where?  God told us in scripture.  The devil couldn’t stop it so he decided to hound us to death.  I used to think I was smarter than everybody but nothing made sense in my life until I met Jesus.  It wasn’t that far from the seat I was sitting in to the altar where I found him.

The shepherds were the closest.  The wise men were many miles away yet these heathen, Gentile kings knew.  Being astronomers and having many books at their disposal they realized the Jewish scriptures showed them a Savior for Adam’s race, not just for Israel.  God would use this child to be the Savior for them as well.  Studying and watching the sky they saw it.  The shepherds were on the way.  The wise men had a long distance but still found the way.  If life has you down, don’t worry.  You may feel far from the Lord but Jesus came the greatest distance.  We’re not out of range of Bethlehem.

Many people were just down the street from the stable and yet they ignored him.  Without Jesus Christ there would be no Christmas, no blessing to the world.  Everything would be chaos and confusion.  The shepherds worshipped because the baby gave them a gift.  We return the favor to the Lord by giving him our heart and trusting him.  He’s not far away.  You don’t have to ask how far.  You know he’s not that far away.  The wise men kept following the star.  It could have been as much as two years of travel for them but that didn’t matter.  They found him.  In Jerusalem they asked everybody where he was.  God put the star there for everyone.  As far as they were away, they still found him.  He wasn’t in ornate Jerusalem.  Herod had built a temple trying to outdo Solomon’s but right under his nose the King of Kings was born.

The world needs Jesus.  Every one of us deserved hell.  We were all bad sinners, every one of us.  If not for Jesus being born in a one-horse town, that’s where we’d go.  How far away is it?  Think you can’t make it?  If the wise men could, you can.  The shepherds weren’t educated but they found him.  The wise men did the same as the shepherds when they found him:  they knelt down and worshipped.  They offered their gifts.  They came a great distance but if you asked them, they would have said “it wasn’t that far.”

There’s a road to Bethlehem.  It’s through the scriptures.  The Christmas story is not a seasonal, holiday story.  It’s a truth that goes from everlasting to everlasting.  Being pretty close is not close enough.  If you’re far away, there’s a star shining to get you to him.  How about it?  The shepherds came with haste and found him.  You can too.

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