We have rung out the old year and are well on our way into the new year. I sincerely hope that you were able to recognize all the blessings that God brought into your life last year and that you continue to enjoy them as the new year unfolds for you.
Time is God’s creation and he gives it to us one day at a time with an honest declaration that whatever happens is intended for our good. I see this not as a pious wish but as a studied conclusion about what happened at Christmas. In Galatians 4 verse 4, Paul opens the door to such a conclusion.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son.” It was the right time; it was God’s time.
330 years before Jesus was born, Greek armies under Alexander the Great conquered the entire region, bringing with them the Greek language that would become a common language by the time that the apostles begin to preach about Jesus. So, the New Testament was written in Greek and could be understood by many people without first having to go through many translations.
165 years before Jesus was born, the Roman armies took over control of the territory. A Roman emperor called Caesar Augustus issued the decree that all the world should be taxed, and Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem at a very inconvenient time for Mary since her baby was about to be born. Joseph and Mary certainly would not have decided to take a trip to Bethlehem for a spring break or a time of relaxation.
But there was a prophecy in Micah that the ruler would be born in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary were both God fearing people and so they respected the authority of the government and made the difficult 90-mile trip. And while they were there the days were accomplished and Mary brought forth her first-born son. Joseph and Mary might have preferred a different time, but it was God’s time for Jesus to be born.
It was God’s time for the Romans to be in control because they brought with them a cruel, public display of executing a criminal: Crucifixion. The Angel told the shepherds that the Savior had been born.
To save all people from their sin Jesus must die, not by being stoned to death as was the Jewish custom, but by being crucified. Nailed to a cross erected along a highway, so that many people could see that this man was cursed by God, (Galatians 3:13). Jesus is the eternal son of God and by his crucifixion pays the punishment for the sins of all people.
God made things happen over a long period of time to fulfill his promise that the descendant of Abraham would be a blessing to all nations. As we look back on history, we see the love of God that makes it possible for us to look back on last year and see the blessings that God brought into our lives, even though at the moment it did not look like a blessing.
Let the love of God open our eyes to see the good that God is bringing into our lives.
Pastor, Family of Christ Lutheran Church