As I begin the new year I look back over my first full teaching experience as a pastor – an Advent study on Adam Hamilton’s book, The Journey. One thing that sticks out as I reflect back on this study as a whole is this: our Lord had no shortage of divine metaphors in His story upon which to draw.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth. Both of these are tied to prophecy. Isaiah 11:1 talks about a “shoot” or “branch” coming out of the defeated stump of Jesse, the line of King David. This word for “shoot” or “branch” is the Hebrew word netzer, which traditionally is where Nazareth gets its name. So Jesus’ hometown was a place of no seeming worth, but a place named for the hope of the Messiah! Bethlehem was a small town, too, but one of great significance. Jews of the time were quite aware of the prophecy of Micah 5:2 which tells of a messianic ruler coming out of Bethlehem. But that’s not where the significance stops. Bethlehem in Hebrew means “House of Bread.” Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, a feeding trough where the creatures of God feed. He would later call Himself the “Bread of Life” in John 6:35 and then would refer to a loaf of Passover bread as His body, given and broken for the sins of the world (Luke 22:19).
Our Lord certainly had no shortage of divine metaphors upon which to draw as He pointed from His life to the very essence and activity of God the Father. This makes me wonder what divine metaphors in my own life or the lives of those around me I might be missing, metaphors pointing to the presence and movement of God like giant billboards though I remain unaware.