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"Is Born this Day in the City of David"
“Unto Us”
The City of David
Luke 2:11; Micah 5:2
To me, one of the biggest challenges of the preaching ministry is the Christmas season. Most of us, if not all of us are familiar with the birth of Christ.  And if we’ve been in church any time at all, we’ve heard sermons about the shepherds and the wise men and Mary and Joseph and angels. 
In fact, in conservative, evangelical churches it is not uncommon to hear references to Christmas and the incarnation and the virgin birth scattered throughout the year because those truths are so foundational to our message and ministry. 
That is not a bad thing; in fact, that is as it ought to be, but it makes it that much more challenging to come up with a fresh and innovative way to share the story of Christmas. 
This year, instead of looking for something new and fresh, I want to focus on something that is familiar and well-known.  As I was praying and asking God about what I should preach on these Sundays leading up to Christmas, He laid upon my heart Luke 2:11. 
It is one of the most well-known and often-heard verses of the entire Christmas story.  It is quite often seen on Christmas cards and heard in cantata recitations. You will even hear Linus quote it to the Peanuts gang in a Charlie brown Christmas.   And chances are, many of you have it committed to memory. 
It says, from the KJV,
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord.”
In a single sentence we find the heart of the Christmas story, the simple story of the birth of our Savior. And what I want to do for the next few weeks is, phrase by phrase, take an in-depth look at this very familiar verse. 
The phrase I want to begin with is “born this day in the city of David”.
The city of David is not Jerusalem.  It’s Bethlehem, which is six or seven miles south of Jerusalem. Today Bethlehem is an Arab town under Palestinian control, but when Jesus was born it was a tiny Jewish community.
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. Here is the exact Scripture from Micah 5:2—
But you, Bethlehem Eph-rathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
So when we read about the “city of David,” we need to remember that Jesus was born in fulfillment of a prophecy made 700 years earlier. That makes Bethlehem
1. A City of Prophecy
Micah 5:2 is one of the clearest, most concise, and concentrated messianic prophecies in all of the Bible. Keep in mind that what Micah wrote here was penned 750 years before the Lord Jesus was ever born.
For instance, Micah’s prophecy tells us
-     The identity of the Messiah
He is identified as “the one to be ruler in Israel.” immediately we now know that the Messiah, who is to be born, was to be both a sovereign and a shepherd. He was to be the anointed one who would indeed be the ruler over the nation of Israel.
Now the Jews recognized that this prophecy indicated the birthplace of the Messiah. When the wise men came to Jerusalem seeking the newborn king, Herod, the king, gathered together the chief priests and the scribes to find out where the Christ was to be born. Here is what they said to him in
Matthew 2:5-6
So whoever the Messiah was to be, he was to be born in Bethlehem.
The prophecy also tells us about
-     The divinity of the Messiah
Micah says this one who is to be born, is the one “whose goings forth are from of old from everlasting.” the Hebrew word for everlasting literally means “the days of eternity.” In other words, the Messiah was going to be born, but he was not going to be created.
One of the greatest truths human minds can ever try to comprehend is that from eternity to eternity the Messiah has always existed. What happened was that the Creator was going to become the creature. The one who said, “let there be light,” was going to become the light of the world. The one who hung the stars in place, was going to become the “bright and morning star.” The one who created man was going to become a man.
And that is exactly what happened. John wrote, in John 1:1,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.”
And in verse 14,
“and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The apostle Paul spelled it out even more plainly when he wrote:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Col. 1:15-17)
Micah also wrote about
-     The humanity of the Messiah
Micah also prophesied that this Messiah would not be just “dropped” from heaven as the dew on the grass, but he would literally come from a city. And it is there that he mentions Bethlehem in particular.  The prophecy couldn’t be more clear.   
“but you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me.” (5:2)
So now we know that this Messiah will not just be divine, He will also be human. The Son of God was also the Son of Man.
As a man, he was baptized in water; as God, He baptized with the Holy Spirit. As man, he was thirsty; as God, He walked on water. As man, he was hungry; as God, He fed five thousand with a few loaves and fishes. As man, He wept at the tomb of Lazarus; as God, He raised him from the dead. As man, he was crowned with thorns; as God, He is crowned King of Kings and Lord of lords. As man, he died on the cross; as God, He came forth from the grave.
Then Micah tells us about
-     The activity of the Messiah
In v.2 we are told He is to be the ruler, but in verse 4 we are told “He shall stand and feed His flock.” in other words, the Messiah was prophesied to be a sovereign that would lead his people, but He is also a Shepherd that would feed His people.
So in one prophecy, we see the identity, divinity, humanity, and activity of the Messiah. Now I want to show you something absolutely fascinating.
In Luke 2:11 we see the absolute fulfillment of this prophecy in Jesus. Watch this: 
First of all, we see his
-     humanity: “for there is born to you”
Then we see his
-     activity: “a Savior
Then Luke tells us His
-     identity: “Christ”  later we will discover His name was called Jesus, for He would save His people from their sins
And finally, we are told of His 
-     divinity: “the Lord.”
And wonder of wonders, Micah announced it all seven and one-half centuries before, the angel affirmed it, and it all happened in Bethlehem, a city of fulfilled prophecy.
Bethlehem is also a
2. A City of History
In Luke 2:4 we are told how it came about that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:4
Now when you study the history of this little city called Bethlehem, you find out some interesting truths.  Remember, the child was born in Bethlehem which is “the city of David”. 
It became known as the city of David because of the rich heritage of David that reached back to Bethlehem.  It was there that David's great grandmother, Ruth, met David's future great grandfather, Boaz.
It was there that David's father, Jesse, was born. It was there that David worked as a shepherd boy, and later was anointed king by Samuel the prophet. All of this was divinely prepared by a Sovereign God because this is where the Messiah was to be born.
Now the reason why Jesus was born in Bethlehem is because Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken.
Luke 2:1-3
Now historians tell us that this census that was ordered was the first of its kind in the history of the Roman Empire.
You can believe one of two things about that.  Either it was either coincidence or it was providence. I believe that Caesar Augustus was a tool in the hands of a Sovereign God to bring about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in exactly the right place. Otherwise, he would have been born in Nazareth.
And not only did Jesus come to a certain place, he came at a certain time. Notice Luke 2:11 specifically says, “there is born to you this day.”
Gal. 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son. . .” God is never early, God is never late, He is right on time.  And for Jesus, the time was that particular day and the place was Bethlehem.
By the way, historically speaking, not only is Bethlehem the “city of David”, and not only is it the place of the birth of the Messiah, it is also the place where the single greatest praise gathering in the history of this world took place. 
The Bible tells us that at the birth announcement of Jesus, both heaven above and earth below began to sing out the praises of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This praise was in three parts: first, there was the
-     proclamation of the angel (Luke 2:10-11)
Then there was the
-     celebration of the choir (Luke 2:13-14)
Then there was the
-     adoration of the shepherds (Luke 2:15-18)
If you think about it, Bethlehem really does tell us what Christmas is all about. It's first of all about proclamation, because we ought to be sharing the Lord Jesus. It’s about celebration, because we ought to be singing about the Lord Jesus and it is about adoration because we ought to be about the business of serving the Lord Jesus.
The “city of David” is a city of prophecy, a city of history and finally, it is a
3. A City of Mystery
In Micah 5:2, the prophet said that the Messiah would come from “Bethlehem Eph-rathah.” The city actually had two names: Bethlehem, which means “house of bread” and Eph-rathah, which means “the place of fruitfulness.”
Let me tell you why it was so important the Messiah be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem refers to bread. Eph-rathah refers to fruit and more particularly, wine because Bethlehem has always been a place of fruitful vineyards.
Now think about the significance of that.  Bethlehem Ephrathah, Bethlehem refers to bread, Ephrathah refers to wine. Bethlehem refers to the body of Jesus, Ephrathah refers to the blood of Jesus.
Jesus gave his body to be the bread of life, and he shed his blood to be the wine of salvation.
Jesus is our “house of bread.”
Listen to what He said in
John 6:57-58:
But not only is Jesus our house of bread, He is also our field of fruit. Did he not say in John 15:1: “I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser”?
Listen again to what he said in
John 6:54-55
Listen: God knows what He is about, and even down to the very names of the city where Jesus was born, God had it all planned so that we would always be pointed back not only to the birth of Jesus, but the body of Jesus and the blood of Jesus.
Phillip brooks was one of America's greatest preachers of the 19th century. He was often referred to as “the prince of the pulpit.” In 1865 Phillip Brooks made a pilgrimage to Palestine. On Christmas Eve he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and visited the usual sights in the village. Then he went east to the traditional field of the shepherds.
As darkness fell, he stood for a while by the cave where the shepherds saw the angels and the glory of God. He then went to a worship service in what is now known as the Church of the Nativity, which was built in AD 326. 
There he worshipped from ten at night until three in the morning. He said it was one of the greatest experiences in all of his life.
Three years later, in 1868, he was searching for a new Christmas carol for his children to sing in their Sunday school Christmas program.
He gave a copy of his text to his organist and Sunday school superintendent, Lewis Redner, and asked him to compose a simple melody that children could easily sing. Redner struggled with this for several days.
Finally, on the evening before the program was to be given, he said he awakened in the middle of the night and sat down and wrote the music and the melody. He said until he died, “He knew it was a gift from heaven”.
12. We now know that song as “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  That song perfectly captures the beauty of Christmas.  Listen to these lyrics:
“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.”
Then we all know the last stanza:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to 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 Immanuel!
As we think about “the City of David” may her prophecy instruct us, her history inform us, and her mystery inspire us to give Jesus our lives, our loyalty, our love.
Let’s pray.
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