In the Prophet Micah we read:
"But you Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:1.
What was the significance of Bethlehem? I think to fully understand the significance, you must first parallel the books of Genesis and John. I don't want to take a whole lot of time on this one issue, so I will just give a 30,000 ft view for now. In Genesis we read of God creating the world as we know it and through one man and one reason, the entire human race was polluted with sin through the disobedience of Eve then Adam. How did this occur? Through the eating of the forbidden fruit.
In John 1 we see a huge parallel to Genesis as the two books even open with the same verbiage: "In the beginning...." What is going on in the Gospel of John is the beginning of the "re-creation". What man lost in the fall, God is restoring through His one and only Son. As the woman (Eve) introduced sin to the world, the new Eve (Mary) restores the Grace of God to creation. And just as sin was introduced to mankind through the eating of the forbidden fruit, so our redemption comes through the eating of a new fruit...the Fruit of Mary's womb: Jesus.
Now if you are a non Catholic Christian reading this, right now you are a little taken aback, but I encourage you to continue reading and following my train of thought. This thought is not just mine and something that I pulled out of my ears, but rather this has been the teaching of the Christian Church until the time of the Reformation.Any person doing any search on on any search engine can do a search for "meaning of Bethlehem" or "translation of Bethlehem" and you will come up with a quite amazing translation. Any guesses? Bueller? Anyone? The meaning of Bethlehem is "House of Bread". So imagine this. Our Lord Christ is born in the House of Bread and is further more lade to rest in a manger: a feeding trough. The symbolism here can be mind numbing because from the very birth of Christ we see a precursor to the Eucharist and Christ being our Spiritual food.
Taking this into consideration even builds a stronger meaning for John 6 where Jesus tells his disciples that His Body is real food and His Blood is real drink and it's fulfillment at the Last Supper. Remember, Jesus takes the bread, breaks it and He then tells his disciples: "This is my Body..." We can again see this prefigured all the way through the Old Testament, especially in the Passover. The plan of The Father throughout time has been for us to draw spiritual nourishment through the mystery of the Eucharist. Also notice that as man fell through eating the fruit off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we are saved through eating the fruit of another tree. The tree this time however was a Cross to which the fruit was nailed.
As we move through this Christmas season, draw close to Christ...draw your nourishment from him. He is the Bread of Life.