Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem?


A Christmas Eve Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

  1. He needed His own body to fight the hells
    1. Neither Devils nor angels could approach the Lord as He is above the heavens
      1. He is like a Sun!
      2. He had to shield His glory so that all could approach
    2. He needed to be born on this earth rather some other
      1. Writing
        1. The WORD
          1. The Lord caused many things to be written in the Word, so that when He limited Himself, He could read the Word of the Old Testament, and through His knowledge of the internal sense, learn about Himself and His mission.
          2. It was also important for a record of His life on earth be kept so that people for all time could experience it through the words of the writers of the gospels.
        2. Israel
          1. Correspondences
            1. Sea of Galilee
            2. Jordan River
            3. Dead Sea
            4. Bethlehem
              1. City of David


  • David was the most famous and most beloved of their kings. He was the SYMBOL of a king to them.
  • In this way they would know that Jesus was a king.
    1. “Bethlehem” means “house of bread”
      1. Bread or food represents the Divine Love, so although He came as a king, which is a picture of truth fighting against what was false and hurtful in the world, He came into the world in Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” to remind us that His purpose was love.
    1. But why did He come as a king and not as a teacher or a priest?
      1. Think about how you learn to do things
        1. Reading, for example
          1. From the simple, to the complex
            1. Letters, sounds, little words, then big words
      2. Think about how you learn about the Lord
        1. We start with a simple idea: Since He was born in the city of David, the great king, and both Mary and Joseph were descended from David, people would think that He was the Messiah, the king of Israel.
          1. Then, people could be led to the more difficult idea: That He was king of all the peoples and nations of the earth.
          2. That then would lead us to see the most complex idea: That He is the King of Heaven – that His kingdom is not only of this world, but He rules over everything.
    2. These are but a few of the reasons why He chose to be born in Bethlehem
      1. So that we would know He is a King
      2. The only king of Heaven, who did this all from His deep and abiding love for us, and His desire that we shall receive from Him all good. Amen.

    First Lesson: Micah 5:1-5

    (Micah 5:1-5) Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops; He has laid siege against us; They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek. {2} “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” {3} Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. {4} And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; {5} And this One shall be peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land, And when he treads in our palaces, Then we will raise against him Seven shepherds and eight princely men. Amen.

    Second Lesson:

    (Mat 1:18-25) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. {19} Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. {20} But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. {21} “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” {22} So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: {23} “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” {24} Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, {25} and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

    (Mat 2:1-12) Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, {2} saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” {3} When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. {4} And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. {5} So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: {6} ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'” {7} Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. {8} And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” {9} When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. {10} When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. {11} And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. {12} Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Amen.

    Third Lesson: AC 4594 (portions)

    4594. [2] The reason the Lord was born [in Bethlehem] and nowhere else was that He alone has been born a spiritual-celestial man. Everyone else has been born a natural man with the ability or capacity to become, through regeneration by the Lord, either celestial or spiritual. The Lord was born a spiritual-celestial man to the end that He might make His Human Divine, doing so according to order from the lowest degree to the highest, and so would bring order to everything in the heavens and everything in the hells….

    [3] Until he can grasp these things no one will ever come to understand in the light of any revelation at all why the Lord was born in Bethlehem….

    [4] in Micah, [it is said] You, Bethlehem Ephrath, it is little that you are among the thousands of Judah; from you will come forth for Me one who will be ruler in Israel; and His origins are from of old, from the days of eternity Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:6.

    From these prophecies it was well known to the Jewish people that the Messiah or Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, as is clear in Matthew, Assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people Herod inquired of them where the Christ (the Messiah) was to be born. They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea. Matt. 2:4, 5.

    And in John, [The Jews said,] Does not the Scripture say that the Christ (the Messiah) is going to come from the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the city where David was? John 7:42.

    His birth did in fact take place there…. For this reason also, and because He was descended from David, the Lord is called ‘a shoot from the stem of Jesse’, and ‘the root of Jesse’. For Jesse, David’s father, was a Bethlehemite, and David was born there and also anointed king there, for which reason Bethlehem was called the city of David, David in particular represents the Lord’s kingship or Divine Truth.


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