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Day 12 of 28: O, Little Town



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O, Little Town

“The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.”

 This line comes from one of my favorite Christmas carols, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

For a long time, I thought this line referred to Jesus, but it’s actually referring to Bethlehem itself.

The birthplace of Jesus. The little town on the hill where Jesus comes into the world to save his people.

God is purposeful, and all his details work together for reasons we see and don’t see. Bethlehem is just another example of this.

Bethlehem wasn’t some random city on a map. 

The prophet Micah wrote, 500 years before the coming of Jesus, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

Micah is saying that Bethlehem may be small and seemingly insignificant, but a new ruler would come from it. That ruler would be Jesus.

The word “Beth-el” means “House of God,” and the word “Le-hem” means bread. Right from the beginning, just in its name, Bethlehem is depicted as “The House of Bread.”

Could there be a more fitting place for Jesus, who is considered the bread of life, to be born?

Even after the death of Jesus, the stories that take place in Acts (beginning with that very first church in chapter 2) have to do with bread. 

This rag-tag group of believers tried to figure out how to do life together under this new banner of Christ. They took care of one another. They showed up for one another. They fellowshipped, and, of course, they broke bread.

As I researched this charming little town of Bethlehem, I found another detail that struck me. Let’s go back to the Old Testament to understand its fullness.

Before Jesus, God required the people to make sacrifices to repent for their sins. It was a bloody, messy process, but it needed to happen repeatedly for the people to remain in right standing with God.

At the Passover, where Moses led the people out of Egypt, God spoke to them through instruction: “Take the lamb’s blood and put it on the doorposts and lentil of the house. My angel of judgment is coming through the land of Egypt, but when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”

He did not instruct them to leave a baby lamb, fully alive, on the doorstep. It had to be the blood of the lamb.

Thousands of years later,  John the Baptist testifies that Jesus has become the sacrificial lamb for all people. He replaces all the sacrificial lambs with his living, breathing body. And it’s not his life– his mere walking on the earth– that will save us but his blood. His death. The sacrifice of his life is so that we could have ours and have it abundantly.

But catch this: For centuries before Jesus arrived on the scene, Passover lambs were born and raised in a VERY SPECIFIC place. That place was Bethlehem.

Just outside of Bethlehem, in the shepherds’ fields, they raised the particular breed of the sacrificial lamb used to fulfill the purposes of Passover. At the end of their lives, these lambs were led from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for sacrifice, just as Jesus came from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to fulfill the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

I’m so thankful for a God in all the details, who sees this little town of Bethlehem, most known for its Passover lambs, and decides, “This is the place where my son will be born. And one day, he will die on a cross as the ultimate sacrificial lamb and cross out the blots and sins of my people for good.”

God did not close his eyes, pull out a map, and let his finger land on Bethlehem as a cool choice for the world’s savior. He doesn’t pick random locations.

He picked the House of Bread as the birthing grounds for the bread of life– broken in body for you and me.

He picked the breeding grounds for Passover lambs to be the birthing grounds for the lamb of God– blood spilled out for all of us.


Luke 2:1-5, Micah 5:2

Steal This Prayer

Dear God, I’m so thankful you’re a God of purpose who does not pick random locations and elements to make your presence known. Today, help me be grateful for the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross. I want to feel in my bones that your Spirit and presence are the only bread I need.

I Love Hearing from You!

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Tiffany says:

    I love this devotional! I wanted to share this during one of my friend Christmas parties, but I also wanted to know what sources you used to write this devotional specifically. These are things I’ve never heard before, so I’m just curious where you got your information. Could you share your sources? Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom!

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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