The Truth of Christmas: The Joy of Bethlehem


The story is told of a notable journalist who traveled a great distance to interview a distinguished scholar. Upon arrival at his home, he was taken into the man’s study, where he said, “Doctor, I notice the scores of books that line the walls of your office and I know you have read and even written many of them. You have been blessed to have traveled extensively and shared a powerful insightful discussion with some of the most profound intellects in the world. Tell me, sir, of all the academic and intellectual acquisitions you’ve learned, what is the one thing most worth knowing?”

The scholar replied with emotion in his voice, “My dear friend, of all the things I have learned, only two are really worth knowing. The first is, I am a great sinner, and the second is, Jesus Christ, is a great Savior.”

My friends, if you know those two things, you know the best news of all: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Just for clarity, the City of David is not Jerusalem—the City of David is Bethlehem, which is about seven miles south of Jerusalem.

In 1865, a man named Phillips Brooks visited the Holy Land Bethlehem and wrote a song:

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight.”

He wrote it that way because 140 years ago Bethlehem was still a tiny and quiet village. Bethlehem is called the “City of David” because David grew up here along with his father Jesse and his seven brothers. In fact, David tended sheep in the fields outside the village just as the shepherds were doing the night the angel appeared to them.

Seven hundred years earlier the Lord had spoken through the prophet Micah and declared that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. “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,” (Micah 5:2, NKJV).

Note the significance of the words: “Unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” Each word is vitally important: Savior is actually an Old Testament word that means “One who delivers his people.” Christ is the Greek version of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means “the Anointed One.” Lord is a term for Deity. It’s a synonym for God.

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to Joseph, he said: “And she shall bring forth a son and thou shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21). He is the Savior, He is the Lord, and He is the Christ. When God got ready to save the world, He gave the best that He had. God loved us enough to give us His only begotten Son. And in sending Jesus, He was really sending Himself. This is the truth of Christmas—Immanuel—God with us.

May the love, joy and peace that comes from a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father be with you. Merry Christmas and may 2018 be filled with the realization of your dreams.

Pastor Frank Anthone White is the pastor at Zion Cathedral.