In the Fullness of Life

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Galatians 4:4

In the play Wingless Victory, by Maxwell Anderson, a young sea captain sails away from Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1800. Seven years later he returned with a ship laden with riches from the Far East. He also returned with a beautiful young wife, a princess from Malay. Instead of the heart-warming reception he expected, the attitude of his friends and relatives was forbidding and cold. They raised a wall of racial prejudice, religious intolerance, and social cruelty because they believed the captain had affronted the traditional and exclusive environment of New England society. Although his wife had abandoned her former superstitions and tribal customs and embraced her husband’s religion, the townsfolk refused to make her one of their own. Finally, breaking under the strain, she decided to end her life. As the bitter tragedy closes, she cries, “God of the children, God of the lesser children of the earth, the black, the unclean, the vengeful, you are mine now as when I was a child. ‘He came too soon, this Christ of peace; men are not yet ready!'”

As we pause on the threshold of Christmas and think back to the story of Christ’s birth, what should we think of this poor woman’s remark? Was humanity ready and waiting for the coming of Christ? Did Christ come too soon? And is it true that men were not ready and may not be ready yet?

The answer is in the Word of God. Galatians 4:4 says “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” The verdict of Scripture is that Christ came at exactly the right time. He came in “the fullness” of time, as the K.J.V says. He came at an hour when His coming couldn’t have been more timely, opportune and useful. A study of history supports this verdict. When Jesus was born, it was at a time when people were heavily taxed and under the threat of world domination by a cruel, ungodly, power intoxicated band of men. Moral deterioration had corrupted the basic populace. Peace propaganda was heard everywhere in the midst of preparations for war. Intense nationalistic feeling was clashing openly with new and sinister forms of imperialism. Conformity was the spirit of the age. Interest rates were spiraling upward in the midst of an inflated economy. External religious observance was considered a political asset. Racial tension was at breaking point. And an abnormal emphasis was placed on sports, athletic contests, and banquets. (Extracts from Sherwood E. Wirt, Decision Magazine).

Yes, Jesus was born at just the right time. To say He came too soon or too late is nonsense. For He came “when the fullness of the time was come” Galatians 4:4 (K.J.V.). As James S. Stewart says, “There is a tide in the affairs of God; and it is when the tide reaches the flood, when all the preparatory work is done and world conditions are clamouring for it and human souls are open, it is then, at the flood-tide hour of history, that God launches His new adventure.”

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