"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
Psalm 87:3-5). Bethlehem was but a little and insignificant town, scarcely more than what we should call a village; not even important for its situation, since it was not on any of the main caravan-routes. And yet it stands out most prominently of all cities in Palestine, save Jerusalem, the capital. Everybody knows Bethlehem. Every traveller must go and see Bethlehem. We should smile at the woeful ignorance of a traveller who did not know enough to compel him to go to Bethlehem. Both the Old Testament and the New give prominence to it, and we may properly call it the twice-honoured city. Descriptions of it, as it was in our Lord's time and now, are at very easy command in modern 'Lives of Christ' and books of travel.
I. HONOURED AS THE BIRTHPLACE OF DAVID. David is the hero of Old Testament history. He is the proper founder of the Jewish monarchy; and is specially commended because he founded it on strictly theocratical lines. He is worthy of honour
(1) for his personal character on the whole;
(2) for his kingly rule, with some marked exceptions;
(3) and he is specially interesting because his reign was distinctly typical of the Messianic reign.
Jerusalem gained honour as the "city of David," Bethlehem as his birthplace. Showing interest in a birthplace is a common sign of our interest in him who was born there. And we even expect to find relations between the genius of the man and the genius of the place.
II. HONOURED AS THE BIRTHPLACE OF DAVID'S GREATER SON. Trace the orderings of Divine providence which brought Mary to Bethlehem. Martin Luther was born unexpectedly at an inn, when his parents were journeying from home. Talk, how you may, the praises of cities, call them "beautiful for situation," record the struggles for liberty of which they may have been the centres, still you must leave the supreme honours for "little Bethlehem." The "Lamb of God," the "Saviour of the world," was born there. - R.T.
Priests and scribes.
(Rev. T. R. Stevenson.)Like in this to those who built the ark for Noah, providing others with a refuge, themselves perished in the flood; or like to the stones by the road that show the miles, but themselves are not able to move.
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