Christmas unwrapped – fruitful

by | Dec 23, 2023 | December 2023 | 0 comments

This is the first in a series of Christmas studies.

‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 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.’
Micah 5:2 (NIVUK)

The Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem is an echo of the prophet’s description of Bethlehem: ‘you are small among the clans of Judah’. Small it may have been, yet this is where, in his humility, God chose to be born as a human being.

The name Bethlehem Ephrathah is significant. Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’, and it was to the ‘house of bread’ that the ‘living bread’: Jesus (John 6:51) came. Ephrathah means ‘fruitful’. Jesus described himself as the true vine, and we as his followers will only be fruitful if we are attached to him (John 15:1-4).

Bethlehem is mentioned on other occasions in the Bible, for example, the book of Ruth opens by telling us that there was a famine in Bethlehem – there was no bread in the ‘house of bread’. As a result, Elimelek and his family fled to Moab as economic refugees (Ruth 1:1-2). While there, Elimelek and his two sons died leaving three widows. When Elimelek’s widow, Naomi, heard ‘…how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread’ (Ruth 1:6 KJV), she and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, returned to Bethlehem. There Ruth married Boaz and became fruitful, giving birth to Obed the grandfather of King David (Ruth 4:17-22), from whose line came Jesus, who was born in the little town called ‘house of bread’. (Matthew 1:1; Luke 2:4-7).

Out of the famine God provided bread and fruit was born. God does the same for us. Out of the famine of our lives, God has given us his Son, the bread of life, the true manna from heaven upon which we can feed and be satisfied (John 6:30-35). Not only will we be satisfied in Jesus, as he meets our every need, when he ‘casts out our sin and enters in’, as we sing in the carol, we will also have the fruit of his death – eternal life (John 6:40, 47-51, 53-58).

This Christmas, as we come to Bethlehem Ephrathah once more, let us feed on the living bread: Jesus, who alone can satisfy and make us fruitful.

Loving Father, thank you that Jesus is the bread of life who satisfies our every longing, and graciously gives us the fruit of eternal life. As beggars, may we show other beggars where to find this bread – in the manger at Bethlehem. In Jesus’s name, we pray, Amen.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.