Episode 1: Bethlehem – Birthplace of Salvation (Along the Road)


THE PROMISED LAND IS
A BEAUTIFUL LAND… FILLED WITH MOUNTAINS,
STREAMS, AND LIVING THINGS. IT’S ALSO A LAND FILLED
WITH BIBLE STORIES. LAYER UPON LAYER UPON LAYER
THAT WAS LAID DOWN OVER TIME, AND EACH LAYER HAS A
RELATIONSHIP TO THE OTHERS. IN FACT, IT’S SO
FULL OF STORIES, MOSES DIRECTED PARENTS TO
TEACH THEIR CHILDREN… NOT JUST WHEN THEY SAT
AT HOME, BUT AS THEY
WALKED ALONG THE ROAD. GOD GAVE ME LOTS OF WAYS TO TRY
TO BETTER UNDERSTAND WHO HE WAS. ONE OF THEM’S NATURE. JESUS LEARNED STORIES
FROM THE LAND AS A CHILD, AND AS AN ADULT HE OFTEN
LINKED LESSONS WITH LANDSCAPE. JESUS USED THIS VIEW AS A
BACKDROP FOR THE COMMAND THAT STILL RINGS IN OUR EARS TODAY. SOMETIMES THOSE LESSONS
WERE ASSOCIATED WITH
THINGS YOU COULD SEE: FARMERS PLOWING FIELDS,
FISHERMEN SEPARATING CATCH, WIDE ROADS AND NARROW ROADS. AT OTHER TIMES JESUS
ASSOCIATED LESSONS WITH THINGS
THAT COULD NOT BE SEEN, PREVIOUS EVENTS THAT HAD
OCCURRED AT A TEACHING LOCATION. THE PEOPLE WERE SEEING
JESUS DOING SOMETHING… THEY HAD SEEN BEFORE IN THIS PLACE. THE LAND STILL
SPEAKS IN THIS WAY, AND WHEN WE ACCEPT
JESUS’ INVITATION, THE ONE HE GAVE TO
PETER AND ANDREW, “COME FOLLOW ME,” WE’LL FIND OURSELVES
IN PLACES WE HAVE BEEN
BEFORE AS BIBLE READERS. JESUS INTENTIONALLY TAKES
US TO PLACES LIKE THIS… SO THAT WE EXPERIENCE A
KIND OF GEOGRAPHIC DÉJÀ VU, A SENSE THAT SOMETHING
IMPORTANT HAPPENED HERE BEFORE. THAT’S A SIGNAL FOR
US TO EXPLORE… HOW JESUS IS BUILDING A
LESSON ON THE LAYERS OF
STORIES BENEATH OUR FEET. OUR JOURNEY BEGINS
WHERE IT SHOULD… AT BETHLEHEM WITH
THE BIRTH OF JESUS. IT’S AN EXCELLENT PLACE FOR
US TO SEE HOW HISTORY LAYERS
ON ONE PLACE ON THE LAND, AND A VERY GOOD PLACE FOR US TO
SEE HOW OLD TESTAMENT STORIES… INFLUENCE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF
STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF JESUS. BEFORE JESUS WAS
BORN IN BETHLEHEM, WE HAVE BETHLEHEM STORIES
FROM THE TIME OF THE JUDGES, FROM THE TIME OF THE
KINGS, AND FROM THE TIME
OF THE PROPHET MICAH. IF YOU LOOK BELOW,
YOU’RE GOING TO SEE THE
RUINS OF THREE TOWERS. WHEN A FAMILY PLANTED
ITS FARM FIELD, THEY WANTED TO BE NEAR IT
WHEN IT WAS HARVEST TIME… SO WHEN THE CROPS WERE RIPENING,
THEY WOULD ACTUALLY… MOVE THEIR ENTIRE FAMILY OUT
INTO THE AGRICULTURAL FIELD… AWAY FROM THE VILLAGE TO LIVE
IN THIS SORT OF STONE IGLOO. SO THERE’S A SYMBOL OF THE-THE
AGRICULTURE THAT’S SO INTIMATELY
CONNECTED TO BETHLEHEM. “BETHLEHEM” IN HEBREW
MEANS “HOUSE OF BREAD”
OR “BAKERY PLACE.” BETHLEHEM STORIES ARE
ALWAYS STORIES ABOUT… HOW THE LORD COMES TO
HELP PEOPLE IN NEED. NOW, THE FIRST TIME WE SEE THAT
IS AT THE TIME OF THE JUDGES, IN FACT AT THE TIME
OF RUTH AND NAOMI. AND THESE TWO LADIES HAVE
COME TO BETHLEHEM AND THEY
HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM TO SOLVE. THEY’RE IN DIFFICULT
ECONOMIC STRAITS. RUTH IS OUT GLEANING IN
THE AGRICULTURAL FIELDS, AND IT’S THERE THAT THE
LORD PROVIDES A SOLUTION
FOR THIS FAMILY… IN THE FORM OF A MAN
BY THE NAME OF BOAZ. BOAZ EVENTUALLY FORMS A
RELATIONSHIP WITH RUTH IN THOSE AGRICULTURAL FIELDS… AND ON THAT THRESHING FLOOR; THEY’RE MARRIED, AND SUDDENLY THIS FAMILY THAT WAS IN SUCH DIFFICULTY… HAS A SOLUTION THAT’S PROVIDED BY THE LORD. THE SECOND TIME WE SEE
THIS HAPPENING IS… ACTUALLY DURING THE DAYS OF RUTH
AND BOAZ’S GREAT-GRANDSON DAVID. SAUL, IS CURRENT
KING OF ISRAEL, AND THE PEOPLE OF
ISRAEL ARE SUFFERING… BECAUSE HE IS NOT THE KIND
OF KING THAT THE LORD
NEEDED TO LEAD HIS PEOPLE. AND SO ONCE AGAIN, ALL
EYES TURNED TO BETHLEHEM. THE PROPHET SAMUEL GOES TO
BETHLEHEM AND ANOINTS DAVID
AS THE IDEAL KING… KING THAT PROVIDED THE
BEST RULING EXPERIENCE
THAT ISRAEL EVER HAD. IT’S NO WONDER THEN THAT
WHEN MATTHEW AND LUKE TELL
THE STORY OF JESUS BIRTH, THEY PLACE THE NAME
OF BETHLEHEM… OR ITS EQUIVALENT
“TOWN OF DAVID”… INTO THE STORY NO
LESS THAN NINE TIMES. THE STORY OF BETHLEHEM
THAT STARTS IN THE FIELDS
WITH RUTH AND BOAZ… TAKES ON NEW MEANING
IN THE FIELDS WHEN
THE ANGELS DELIVER… THIS INCREDIBLY
POWERFUL MESSAGE: “THE KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS HAS COME.” BUT THE VERY FIRST WORDS THAT
THEY SPEAK, IN MANY RESPECTS, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT
AND MOST POWERFUL OF THAT
ENTIRE CHRISTMAS DAY. BECAUSE WHEN THE ANGELS
CAME TO THE SHEPHERDS, THE VERY FIRST THING THEY
SAID TO THEM WAS “FEAR NOT.” WE’VE HEARD THAT LANGUAGE
BEFORE ONLY IN A DIFFERENT WAY. THE VERY FIRST WORDS THAT WERE
SPOKEN BY ADAM AND EVE… IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN AFTER
THEIR FALL INTO SIN WERE THESE: “WE HID FROM YOU, LORD,
BECAUSE WE WERE AFRAID.” AND I FIND IT SO STRIKING
AND SO POWERFUL THAT IN
THESE FIELDS OF BETHLEHEM, THE VERY FIRST WORDS
THAT THE ANGELS SPEAK TO
THE SHEPHERDS ARE THESE. THE MEANING OF THIS NIGHT:
YOU CAN STOP BEING AFRAID… BECAUSE BETHLEHEM HAS DELIVERED
THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION.

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *