Summary: Sermon illustrated by Chrismons: Jesus came at the right time, into a world of spiritual hungers, social unrest, devaluation of life. So He comes to our time, when ultimate questions are being asked, when much seduces us, when we are weak. He will be Lo
Infants, not yet born, seem to have a mind of their own. Infants, not yet born, pay very little attention to the doctor’s predictions, the mother’s preferences, or the father’s fears. When they want to arrive, they arrive; and if they don’t want to emerge into this cold, cruel world, they don’t, not until they have to. Infants, not yet born, seem to have a mind of their own about when to come.
But the truth is that God has a time; God has a time for every purpose under heaven. The Bible says that there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time for every purpose. God has time; and God is on time.
Whenever any of you have shared with me the happy news that a little addition is on its way, I have invariably asked what the due date is. If you give me one, I jot it down on my calendar, so that I can watch, pray, and share the joy. A week or two before the zero hour, I am usually on the phone, asking how things are going. Typically the answer I get is that we’re still looking at that target date. We think we know when junior will stake out his claim to fame. I settle back and wait for a call.
A week later, I haven’t heard anything, so I call you again. And you say, I don’t know, but it better be soon. This is so uncomfortable. At that point I make comforting noises, but, being a mere male, I really don’t know what I’m talking about. And I hang up and think that in a couple or three days I’ll be smiling down on you and your pride and joy in a hospital room.
What happens next? What is the usual scenario? Silence. Nothing. No phone call, no breathless father, no beaming grandparents. Nothing. So I call and I say what the pastor is supposed to say, that it’s going to be fine, and I pray with you and then go out and make sure my car will start. Don’t want to miss out!
Two days later; three; four; a week. And you are fuming with impatience, dad is wearing a path in the carpet, your mother is ready to go back home, and everything is in chaos. Why? Because infants, not yet born, seem to have a mind of their own. Infants, not yet born, pay very little attention to what anybody else wants. When they want to arrive, they arrive; and if they don’t want to, they don’t.
But God has a time; and God is on time. The Scripture tells us that when the days were accomplished that Mary should be delivered, she brought forth her first-born son and laid him in a manger. When the days were accomplished .. when it was the right time. God had a time. I call it “the nick of time”. Just at the right moment -- at the countdown to the zero hour. At five minutes to midnight. At the intersection of never again and not yet. In the nick of time.
Think with me about the world into which Jesus was born.
It was a world of spiritual hungers, the like of which had never been seen before. All over the Mediterranean world, men and women were hungry for a new faith. The old religions of Greece and Rome were bankrupt. Few if any believed any longer in the old mythologies; few if any put any faith in the likes of Jupiter or Mars or Venus or Neptune. We’ve used the names of the old Romans gods to adorn the planets way out there in space, and that’s just about how the ancient world felt about its deities – way out there, nebulous, untouchable, remote, pointless and helpless. It was a world of spiritual hunger into which Jesus was born.
The world into which Jesus was born was also a world in of both political achievement and of social unrest. Rome had marched its way across a score of civilizations, defeating every enemy and taking every prize. But Rome had one unbeatable enemy. Rome had one adversary she could not conquer – and that was herself. The political institutions of Rome were no longer adequate for all she had to govern; a little Senate of learned men sitting in the Eternal City could no longer act decisively enough to govern so far-flung an empire. And so the republic gave way to a dictatorship under Julius Caesar, and the death of Julius Caesar made way for his nephew Octavian. Before long before they were calling Octavian “Augustus”, the Emperor Augustus. Into that time of political change came Jesus, at the right time, in the nick of time: