Little House of Bread
When it comes to Sunday morning expositions,
making rhymes is not normally my disposition.
Before you raise an eye of suspicion,
let me explain my intention.
When hearing stories you’ve been told before,
it’s important they never become a bore.
These Christmas poems are a gift to you
and a gift I’m offering the King of the Jews.
I pray your eyes open to the greatest gift ever,
while I offer this gift to the greatest gift giver.
Tis the season when we savor,
the good news of a coming Savior.
Parties, cantatas, and festivities fill the calendar.
The Candlelight Service grabs the biggest chatter.
Hear familiar carols and a Christmas hymn.
The choir sings “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Remember the humble place of Jesus’ birth?
Remember the day God came to earth?
How did Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem come to be?
Let us never forget Caesar’s decree.
A worldwide taxation secured by registration
would somehow fit into God’s plan of redemption.
On the surface all sounded just part of Caesar’s decree,
later we see the deeper story was God’s decree.
So, Joseph and Mary embarked on a journey so taxing.
Making their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, 70 miles they would be passing.
Imagine traveling that far by car, train, or a plane.
You could easily arrive in just one day.
But Joseph and Mary slowly made their way,
traveling by foot took a total of 6 days.
Do you see the burden of this registration?
This experience resembled no picnic or vacation.
That’s a long way to traverse by foot through desert dirt.
The trip feels longer when you’re great with child and about to give birth.
Arriving at Bethlehem and ready to call it a day,
Imagine discovering there’s no place to stay.
Whispering to each other, “I’m so ready to hit the hay.”
Such a simple expression became literal that day.
They either slept outdoors, in a stable, or a cave
all because there was no room in the inn that day.
Bedding down beside sheep and cattle,
for Mary’s sake appeared to be only half the battle.
The tears Joseph saw and the groans he heard
clearly indicated Mary was about to give birth!
The time to give birth finally arrived,
the promised messiah came to Bethlehem that night.
With simple details the Scriptures share,
the loving nature of Mary’s maternal care.
Keeping baby Jesus warm lest he catch a crude cough,
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a warm feeding trough.
This baby Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son,
the Scriptures record her cherishing what God’s done.
Soon shepherds stood bedside,
answering the call from a choir on high.
Swiftly they appeared from their sheep pasture;
catching a glimpse of baby Jesus was all they were after.
But visit Bethlehem today,
and your eyes will absorb quite the display.
Years ago Constantine flexed his macho bravado
by erecting a church over Christ’s grotto.
You can debate if such an elaborate building is fitting,
because this structure contrasts Jesus’ humble beginning.
Greeted by shepherds and born near a pasture,
Jesus called himself the good shepherd and his followers the sheep of his pasture.
But Before Jesus came along,
Bethlehem was simply the hometown of a shepherd boy who wrote songs.
This young shepherd boy, David, grew up to become king,
and from his family tree would come the greatest king.
No need to fear. We’re not simply reminiscing.
The Bible makes important connections like these you might have been missing.
Stop! Look around Bethlehem. Take it all in. Ask yourself this question.
Why? Why was Jesus born here? What was God’s intention?
Matthew provides a helpful clue.
He quotes Micah 5:2.
The messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.
Conveniently, Bethlehem resides in the land of Judah.
Bethlehem never topped the list of vacation stays.
Only 200 residents lived there in Jesus’ day.
One never visited Bethlehem to stay,
unless one was on their way to Jerusalem the next day.
A little town like Bethlehem could be considered a fail or a flop,
but God would make this town the cream of the crop.
“How would God do this?” You say.
Bethlehem would give birth to the Messiah someday.
The Messiah would rule, protect, and care.
Shield his people like sheep from a lion or bear.
Hear this promise to King David in 2 Samuel 5:2.
See this promise fulfilled in King Jesus too!
“You shall be shepherd of my people Israel,
and you shall be prince over Israel.”
God’s people knew all these prophecies were clues.
They quickly mention them in John 7:42.
The Scriptures proclaim the Christ comes from the offspring of David
and from Bethlehem the village of David.
To the skeptic accusing Jesus of devising a prophecy fulfillment plan,
securing the place of his own birth was clearly out of Jesus’ hands.
May this clear truth never be forgotten.
Jesus is God the Father’s only begotten.
Can’t you see? Can’t you see? Can you see God’s intention?
Bethlehem fulfilled important prophecies in God’s plan of redemption!
This little town of Bethlehem revealed important clues.
Matthew shares, “This is what God was up to!”
Wait! A random thought about Bethlehem just popped in my head.
Did you know Bethlehem means a “house of bread”?
If you knew this too,
I will trust another fact to be true.
I trust you do not dabble in voodoo,
But rather you know a dash of Hebrew.
If you care, there are lots of random facts about Bethlehem I could share.
Like how Rachel was buried by her husband, Jacob, on the way there.
Or how David sent his mighty men near there to fetch him some water.
An interesting story, but from the look on your face, right now we won’t bother.
But there’s one big morsel of food for thought.
Savor this one crumb of truth, and a lot you will be taught!
Now peer through Scripture’s window pane,
set your eyes on God’s covenant lane.
The word covenant may sound weird to you,
but this word describes an excellent truth.
A covenant could describe an agreement between you and me.
Its fulfillment would depend partly on you and partly on me. You see?
But when God informed King David, “Here is what I will do for you.”
We find this simple definition of covenant will not do.
I’m not trying to be difficult or technical.
This covenant God made with David was purely unconditional.
God’s promise made no mention of a mouse in a house,
but it had everything to do with a house.
One day David considered his own great palace built brick by brick.
David thought to himself, “Meanwhile, God you live in a shack that’s not so terrific.”
God informed David, “Building me a house is not a project for your hands to tackle.
For now I’m quite content with my tabernacle.”
God added, “David, building me a house is not a job for you.
Instead, David, I will build a house for you!”
Today, I make a covenant with you, my son.
I will establish your kingdom for generations to come.”
Not getting to build God a temple was no longer a tragedy.
God just promised to establish through David an eternal dynasty.
One day this promise seemed to go down in shambles.
Jerusalem found herself destroyed in battle.
From this point forward there was no Davidic king.
No heir of David ruled in Jerusalem after 586BC.
All hope hinged on a victory the Messiah would bring.
But to secure this victory the Messiah must first feel death’s sting?
So, for now Bethlehem, this is all we will share.
Because Jesus’ most important work took place 6 miles south of there.
One Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, the promised Messiah arrived.
Less than a week later, Jesus was sentenced to die.
The disciples scattered because they could not bear to see,
their promised Messiah dangling from Calvary’s tree.
Good Friday remembers the day Jesus died.
There ruthless Roman soldiers heard his dear mother cry.
Three days later, a few women would visit his tomb.
What their eyes viewed removed all doom and gloom.
Confused by what was not in this old carved out rock,
these Mary’s ran away scared and in shock.
Jesus’ tomb was empty! Enough of a reason for shock.
But also an angel had rolled back the rock!
The angel declared, “He is not here! He is risen!” Just as He said.
Christ Jesus, Your King, has resurrected from the dead!
Now, we know God’s covenant promise to David is true.
We now know the how and even the who.
King David’s line will reign forever,
because death could not keep King Jesus buried forever.
Jesus proved Himself the promised, messianic king.
Every Christmas He provides the reason we sing.
My friend, no longer put up a fight.
Remember how all the hopes began being fulfilled in Jesus the first Christmas night.
The promised Messiah who secured salvation by resurrecting from the dead,
Began His victorious rescue mission in a little place called a “House of Bread.”
“O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend on us, we pray.
Cast out our sin, and enter in; Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels. The great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel.”
 Genesis 35:19.
 2 Samuel 23:13-17; 1 Chronicles 11:15-19.
 2 Samuel 7:8-16; Psalm 89:3-4.