But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive adoption as sons. Gal 4:3-5
Jesus Christ came at an opportune time. He was born under the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, which brought more than subjugation to the land of Palestine. The Romans also brought a cessation of war and the trade goods of the world’s largest empire, a road system unparalleled until the 20th century, advances in science, sanitation and education. Under the Romans, many citizens found the time and the skills to complete works of art, architecture and literature which it would take many centuries to equal. This was a world in which a message could spread as never before.
The Jews, in particular, who had been conquered and re-conquered by so many regimes, felt a release from the pressure to adopt Greek culture, and lived under partial self-rule in Israel. Within their society they were bound together by the ever-tightening circle of laws and rules which they had developed to safe-guard their way of life in a hostile environment. Nothing mattered more than their Jewishness, their birthright, their worship. They used their greater leisure to act out small legalities meant to please a God they had almost ceased to understand – and to search the Scriptures for that which they desired most – a Savior who would bring them complete freedom to be God’s people in the world. When the magi came from the east inquiring about such a personage, it was the learned Jews who supplied the birth-location of Bethlehem. And yet, when the great event occurred, it was the learned Jews who missed it.
They missed it because they expected a mighty sound and light show such as had occurred on Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments. They wanted a Savior to sweep away every conquering army and vindicate the faith of the Jewish people. They wanted a mighty miracle, worthy of their suffering and their status. Isn’t that what we want as well, a mighty sound and light show worthy of our suffering, a cataclysm which will wipe out all our opposition?
The Savior appeared as a helpless infant, born in a stable in Bethlehem, born five miles from the capital of Jerusalem, right in the Jews’ own backyard. But they missed it. Let that be a lesson to us! Don’t miss the Presence of God in your everyday life. It is no less a miracle that He talks with you at the kitchen sink than if He were to write your name with stars in the night sky. Don’t miss the power of God in the ordinary. It is no less a miracle that He deals lovingly with your impatience than if He were to raise you from the dead. Are you looking in the right place for your Savior? Try looking in your own backyard.