“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened…” Luke 2:15
There is even more meaning in the birthplace of Jesus. Remarkable things happened in Bethlehem! There’s an ancient story called the Book of Ruth found in the Old Testament. It is the story of a young widow who is the namesake for the book. Widows in that day and time struggled to make it in society as they had very little means of income or support. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, understood that her only hope was to find a kinsman-redeemer.
To understand the concept of the kinsman-redeemer you need to know about an Old Testament practice known as Levirate marriage. Levirate marriage occurred when a man would marry his brother’s childless widow in order to have offspring. The first child was counted as the son of the dead man so that his name would continue on in Israel. The practice applied to brothers (Deut. 25:5-10), but was extended in the time of the judges to the nearest of kin down the family line.
In God’s providence, Ruth met a man named Boaz. Boaz “happened” to be a potential kinsman-redeemer. For Ruth and Naomi the existence of a kinsman-redeemer held out the promise of protection, of help, of redemption. For Naomi, there was a man that could keep the name of her dead son living on and there was a man who could greatly help them. For Ruth, there was a man that could love her, support her, and give her a family. Boaz was that man!
Not just anyone could be a kinsman-redeemer. You had to be a blood relative, you had to be able to provide, and you had to be willing to make a commitment of such magnitude. Boaz fit all of those requirements. Boaz fell in love with Ruth and married her, becoming her kinsman-redeemer. Oh, and did I mention that Boaz lived in Bethlehem?
You see, Boaz is an Old Testament type or picture of Christ. Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer! He is the One that can redeem us from sin and death. He is the One that provides for our deepest needs. Like Boaz, Jesus can be our redeemer because He is a blood relative. In other words He took on human flesh so He could die for the sins of humanity (Heb. 2:14). Like Boaz, Jesus can be our kinsman-redeemer because He is able to save (Heb. 9:11-12). He shed His blood to make salvation available. Like Boaz, Jesus can be our kinsman-redeemer because He is willing to save (Heb. 12:2). Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. Oh, and did I mention that He was born in Bethlehem?