This short essay is taken from the book, The Incarnation and the Exultation: An Advent Devotional. This devotional reflects on the scriptures of incarnation and exaltation in order to take you on a journey of thoughtful self-reflection. It is meant to draw you more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world to help you walk your own inner path toward the season of Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of Christ into your lives during Advent and spend time reflecting on the readings in this devotional, may the light and love that entered our world lead you to the cross in wonder and thanksgiving. May you find joy and discover strength as you walk this wondrous journey to Bethlehem, always holding within your heart the image of the Hill of Calvary and the hope of the Age to come when Christ will return to call his people home!
Incarnation – And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed, who was with child. (Luke 2:4-5)
Exaltation – But you, O Bethlehem Eph'rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)
Bethlehem – from that tiny insignificant town came the Messiah, the One who ruled over Israel and all the world. We sing sweet and somber words about this little village where Jesus was born. And yet, there is so much more to contemplate than its stillness, where the silent stars go by. Bethlehem was the "City of David" where that great King of Israel was born. Now, on that quiet night, in that humble stable, the true King of kings was born. Bethlehem was also the "House of Bread" – the place where the Bread of Life came to give his flesh for the world.
As we read the account of the birth of Christ we may pass over too quickly that God, from all eternity had determined exactly where his Son would be born, how it would take place, and what it would all mean for those who would believe. The Father orchestrated the pages of history to turn in such a way that Joseph and Mary would be called to come to Bethlehem to register for the Roman Census. This event in history was merely an instrument in the hand of the Almighty to bring about his purposes. It reminds us that God is forever in charge, all-powerful and perfect in his timing as he unfolds his wonderful plan of salvation for all humanity.
Like this obscure town, our insignificant lives have eternal value and great purpose in the ultimate plan of God. It is only for us to follow and obey as we live out our call as believers to carry the glorious message of Christmas to all the world!
Prayer: Father, your plan and your timing in sending your Son to earth was perfect. May the story of that tiny town where the infant Jesus was born, cause me to marvel at the mysterious ways of the One who loved us enough to send his only begotten Son to save us from our sins…Amen!
Bethlehem of Judah’s numbers
Not among the least you be,
In you now your ruler slumbers,
Man’s Great Shepherd God is He.