Significant things can come from insignificant places. Consider one of the best current professional quarterbacks in the NFL, Carson Wentz. Carson’s upbringing didn’t have him at the elite quarterback universities, nor was he cultivated to be an NFL star through the prestigious clinics and camps that constitute the QB Industrial Complex existing in youth sports today. His college career didn’t include being recruited by top Division I schools to play with the best coaches and systems. Instead, he played for the little-known, barely recognized North Dakota State Bison. And yet, just five years into his NFL career, he is already one of the top players in the sport, with a Super Bowl ring to show for it.
Greatness can come from small, insignificant places—places like Bethlehem. This small, off-the-beaten-path village was probably the last place one would imagine greatness could come from. Jerusalem, Rome, Athens—these were the places of prominence in the empire. Bethlehem was not even a footnote. Yet God loves to humble the great in this world with the small. He brings low the significant by using the insignificant (James 4:6).
The significance bestowed upon Bethlehem isn’t because they had somehow garnered God’s attention. He didn’t see a little city doing great things and say, “Wow! I’ve got to add that place to my best-places-to-visit list.” Bethlehem, that little place that was “small among the clans of Judah,” was named by God as the birthplace of the Redeemer as a show of His grace (Micah 5:2).
The promise of Micah 5:2–5 is a significant declaration of God’s undeserved love to undeserving people, including us. Bethlehem would be the epicenter of God’s activity and mercy in the world. From this community, the “forever king” would come, unite God’s people, and be their Shepherd, King, and security forever.
In coming to Bethlehem, we find Jesus isn’t just out to rescue people who have it all together or those who exist in places of religious prominence. Jesus came to those who were out of the way and forgotten, but God has not forgotten them. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians:
“Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective,
not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead… God has chosen what is insignificant
and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something,
so that no one may boast in his presence (1:26–29).
From this little, forgotten place, the King of kings came to rescue people who are otherwise overlooked. Perhaps you believe that is true of you; that the world has overlooked you and there is no personal significance to be had in this world. Bethlehem tells us that Christmas is for the overlooked. Maybe you fail to see yourself as lowly, instead wanting to believe that God would miss out if He didn’t have you on His team. May the humility of Jesus’s birthplace remind you that grace isn’t for the proud, but the humble. May we all humble ourselves and rejoice in the Redeemer who hailed from a small place to save the entire world.
Written by Jeremy Writebol