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GOD: new evidence

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Born in Bethlehem

(Unwrapped: the Truth about Christmas #17)

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Matthew and Luke both say that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But their accounts clearly come from different sources. So there is independent testimony from multiple witnesses that Jesus really was born in Bethlehem.

This is important because it was the home town of King David, the greatest king of Israel. It mattered to Matthew that Jesus was a descendant of David, so he had a legitimate claim to be the king.

It also fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy about where the Messiah would be born, which Matthew quotes.

So although Bethlehem was only an unimportant little village, it became important because of its link with King David, and because of the promise that the Messiah would be born there.

People sometimes claim that Matthew and Luke made up their accounts of Jesus being born in Bethlehem, because it strengthened his claim to be the Messiah. But there were many other people in the first and second centuries who claimed they were the Messiah. None of them - as far as we know - claimed that they were born in Bethlehem. It was important that the Messiah was a descendant of king David. But it appears that the prophecy in Micah 5:2 that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem just was not all that salient in people's thinking. This makes it more likely that Matthew started with the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and worked back to the prophecy, rather than the other way round.

To find out more read Matthew 1:18-2:18

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