Christmas Lessons From Israel -
Lambs Without Blemish
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting.”
- Micah 5:2
Here's an idea to help you engage in table talk with your family about a deeper Christmas meaning.
Let's talk about Christmas in Bethlehem tonight.
Are you ready?
Christmas in Bethlehem - A Little Story to Start
With commercialism in today’s world, it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
But hopefully, this table talk for Christmas that I would like to share with you steer you closer to the truest meaning of this season.
Ask your family to bring their Bibles to the table and open to John. Yes, I know that is not our usual book for a Christmas story - but yet it is!
John 5:1-3: “After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Aramaic, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the disabled—blind, lame, and paralyzed.”
Jesus didn’t spend loads of time in Jerusalem. Rather, like any good Jew, He came into the city from the surrounding towns when it was festival season.
And since festival season was here, He traveled to Jerusalem for this scene at the Pool of Bethesda.
When you travel to Jerusalem in Israel, most tours will take you to the site of the Pool of Bethesda. Believed to be the authentic site because of the 5 porticos showing. From this location you can see the Sheep Gate.
The reading through that passage in John may seem somewhat insignificant, but the Sheep Gate is important. It was the way sacrifices and offerings were brought into the temple. And it was helpful this pool was close by.
The sheep brought in for sacrifices weren’t raised in Jerusalem. They came from the small towns and villages surrounding the city.
How the Unblemished Sacrifice Were Prepared for the First Christmas
Before the animals were sacrificed, one had to be sure they were without blemish. The pool, then, became a handy way to clean the animals after the journey to be sure they were acceptable for sacrificing.
So the Pool of Bethesda was associated not only with healing powers but also with sheep and sacrifices.
Of all the small towns that raised sheep for sacrifice the closest town to Jerusalem that did this, was Bethlehem.
It was the most popular place because it was the closest to Jerusalem. It didn’t take long for the sheep to get to the city, and because of the shorter journey, the sheep were less likely to have blemishes from the walk.
Table Talk and Christmas Blessings
“Bethlehem ~ there would be no other place the sheep would come from.”
It was no wonder that Jesus, the perfect spotless lamb, was born in a manger in Bethlehem—a manger made for animals. There would be no other place that Jesus would come from.
As you stand at the Pool of Bethesda near the Sheep Gate - there in Israel - it is quite possibly where the sacrificial Lamb of God who brought healing through His sacrifice demonstrated His power over brokenness and His love for the broken.
For years people read about the pool and they read about the town of Bethlehem as Jesus birthplace - now you can see the true beauty of Scripture as it is intricately knitted together.
Blessings to you and your family this Christmas Season - May the God of Glory fill your home!
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