Sometime ago NPR (National Public Radio) carried a story about the big plans they’ve got for sprucing up Bethlehem, the dusty little Palestinian town of Jesus’ nativity. It seems that tourists take the bus ride over from Jerusalem, get out, scurry into the church of the Nativity, take their pictures, get back on the bus, and head back into the big city. Nobody wants to linger in Bethlehem.

So they are building a luxury hotel, turning that dingy car park into a shopping mall, and attempting to turn poor Bethlehem into a place where tourists will want to stay and spend their money. International donations of $40 million are helping with the project. But there are charges of local political corruption, of money lining politicians’ pockets, and the whole project is bogged town in administrative red tape. What else is new?

Poor Bethlehem — grimy, politically corrupt, caught between two warring peoples. Hardly the place for a celebration of Christmas. Yet in this tiny town the birth of Christianity happened just as the prophets of old had said.

Hardly the place for a celebration of Christmas.
Matthew records for us King Herod’s inquiry of where the Messiah would be born. His scholars told him that it had been written by the prophets many years earlier:

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. (Matthew 2:6)