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The Origin Story of Jesus

birth certificate

When Barack Obama became President, Donald Trump challenged him to produce his birth certificate. The allegation was that Obama was not qualified to be president because he did not meet the “Article Two” requirement, which states that to be president (or vice-president) a person has to be a natural-born US citizen. You cannot be an immigrant, or “naturalized” citizen. At first President Obama ignored the taunt, but Trump kept goading him until finally, in April 2011, the White House released a copy of Obama’s birth certificate showing his place of birth as Honolulu, Hawaii. Case closed.

In a similar way, the provenance of the Messiah was a necessary qualification for his claim to be King of the Jews. Not only did he need to be born in a particular country, but the Messiah had to hail from a very specific spot on the map. This requirement would limit the number of claimants to the title, and proving his provenance would silence those disputing that Jesus was who he claimed to be.



Micah 5: 1Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. 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

Micah was predicting a siege against Jerusalem and calling for Judah to muster her troops to defend against the raid. It was considered an honor to defend Jerusalem, and each town that could, would send 1000 warriors to join the defending army. But there was one town near Jerusalem which would not be able to muster 1000 men to fight. The little town of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was a Podunk, a backwater place. But Micah takes time out of his prophecy to address this one tiny town, by promising that it will have a unique honor.

And in this text is one of the gleaming nuggets of the minor prophets: the provenance of the Messiah.

But why prophesy 700 years before the event where the Messiah would be born? And why did God select Bethlehem?

The reason God predicted the geographic origin of the Messiah was because one’s birthplace is not something anyone can control. God chose a small town, a small clan, simply to limit the number of people who can make claims to the title of Messiah.

The Jews understood this. Christ’s birthplace was a matter of dispute during his lifetime.

John 7: 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him.

A birth certificate would have settled this.  But they assumed that because he grew up in Nazareth, he must have been born there. Which shows their willful ignorance.


Micah 5: 2But 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…

The word Ephrathah is referring to a clan or family unit within the tribe of Judah, and they came from Bethlehem. So the Messiah not only had a geographic qualification to meet but a genealogical one too. From the Book of Ruth, we know that Naomi was an Ephrathite (Ruth 1:2) and when Ruth returned to Bethlehem she married an Ephrathite, named Boaz, they had a son named Obed, a grandson named Jesse, and a great-grandson named David.

And this is what God promised to David. 2 Samuel 7: 12-16 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. … And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”

So the Messiah must come from the line of David and be born in Bethlehem. But God does not use the word “forever,” lightly. He was promising that David’s line (from Bethlehem, Ephrathah) would rule God’s people forever. For that, you’d need an unbroken succession of kings, … OR … one King who would rule forever.

Which brings us to the 3rd important aspect of the origin of the Messiah…


Micah 5:2 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.

This is what made the Messiah unique. He wouldn’t just be a denizen of Bethlehem. He wouldn’t be any ordinary ruler. He would be from old. What did this mean? How could a ruler exist before he was born? He’d have to be eternal, and no one is eternal… except God.

And Jesus’ claims are in line with this Scripture. This is what he said when challenged by the Jews as to who he was.

John 8:58-59 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him

The Jews knew that Jesus was claiming to be eternal – and only God was eternal – so Jesus was claiming to be God – end of discussion. Kill him.


Jesus is who he claimed to be. We have his birth certificate in the Scriptures. This is the time of the year we will sing about and celebrate the town of Christ’s birth. Let us all keep in mind just how remarkable it is to have a King whose provenance is indisputable. Case closed.

This article originally appeared here.