Summary: God has given us a perfect gift in the sending of His Son Jesus Christ.
A Perfect Gift
. Christmas means that:
He became poor that we might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9, Jas. 2:5).
He became a servant that we might become sons (Phil. 2:7; Gal. 4:6, 7).
He was stripped that we might be clothed (Matt. 27:28; Gal. 3:27).
He was forsaken that we might not be forsaken (Matt. 27:26; 28:20).
He was sad that we might become glad (Isa. 53:3; Phil. 4:4).
He was made sin that we might be made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).
He came down that we might be caught up (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
-- Larry Farthing
I. The Perfect Arrival
But when the time had fully come
Historical conditions prepared for the birth of the Messiah by
A. The dispersion of the Jews
1. The diaspora
a.) The Jews were spread throughout the Roman empire
b.) Now every major Roman community had a Jewish presence
2. Impact on the early church
a.) These Jewish communities were the source for the early Christian evangelism – Paul always began his work in synagogues
b.) If this dispersion had not taken place, evangelism would have been limited to Israel
c.) God prepared all these Roman communities for Christianity
B. A favorable legal environment
1. Exempt status of the Jews
a.) Romans conquered many nations
1.) Many different religions existed in the empire
2.) One condition: proclaim “Caesar is Lord”
b.) Jewish resistance to the condition
1.) Romans killed hundreds, even thousands of Jews to force them to submit
2.) Romans finally granted exemption to the Jews
c.) God now sends the Messiah and prepares for the early church
2. Favor for the early church
a.) For many years the Romans believed that Jews and Christians were the same
1.) They believed there was no difference
2.) Early church was given Jewish exemption
b.) Impact for the church
1.) There was limited Roman persecution during the exemption
2.) Christians were not required to call Caesar Lord
3.) When the difference was discovered – It was too late
C. A favorable political climate
1. Roman civil wars
a.) There was a great deal of civil war – Julius Caesar
b.) August comes to power about 25 years before Christ’s birth
1.) August brings a new and lasting peace to the empire
2.) The peace brought change and innovation
2. New Roman productivity
a.) The Roman legions now built roads and peace keeping forces
b.) Safety in the empire rose and crime plummeted – Travelers were now protected
c.) This made it safe for the church to spread the gospel
D. A favorable cultural climate