A doctor's visit can be intimidating for a child—for anyone, really. But especially for a little four-year-old girl, who doesn't quite get it. A pediatrician was trying to calm the girl—to befriend her. As he looked into her ear he asked, "Am I going to find Big Bird down there?" The little girl remained silent. The doctor took the tongue depressor and looked down her throat and asked, "Am I going to find Cookie Monster down there?" She just looked up at him. Finally, the doctor put the stethoscope on her chest and asked, "Am I going to hear Elmo in there?" That got her attention—she spoke up and said, "Oh no, sir, Jesus is in my heart! Elmo's on my underpants!" If you ask any child who is a believer about Jesus Christ, they are going to tell you the same thing: He's in my heart. As children, that's the first thing we learn and know of Him: He's in our hearts. In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul reminded us that Jesus is the heart. He's the center. He's the main character on the stage of history. If you were to ask God the Father, "What's the bottom line in life? What's the central issue that I need to deal with?" He would say, "Jesus Christ. That's it." The beloved John said "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life" (John 3:36). Peter agreed. He wrote: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12). Jesus is stage-center in history.
Even the unbeliever knows this. The agnostic, the atheist, the polytheist—all of them struggle with the Person of Christ. Why? Jesus is the Bright Star of history. He shines brighter and looms greater than any other person. And His influence is greater. Compare Jesus to the great philosophers of Greece: Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle for forty—that's 130 total years of classical Greek instruction. Jesus taught for just three and a half years, yet His influence is far greater than all of the others put together.
Jesus never painted a picture—but the greatest artists used Him as their subject: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael. Jesus never wrote a poem—but some of the very best were inspired by Him: Milton, Dante, Herbert. Jesus never composed a melody—but the likes of Bach, Beethoven, and Handel were moved by Him. Even the French Emperor Napoleon once said: "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires, but Jesus alone founded His empire on love. And to this very day, millions would die for Him."
The Fullness of Time
In verse four, Paul writes: "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4). This is a very descriptive way of saying that a period of preparation was completed and a brand-new covenant had arrived. The fullness of the time. The first coming of Christ was the hinge by which the door of time swings—and we testify to that today. Last time you wrote a check or signed a legal document, you dated it 2009. And what is the date? A reference to the hinge of Christ's coming. Because we're referring to 2009 A.D., Anno Domini, or "the year of our Lord." And before that was B.C., "before Christ." A definite timing element. God is never late and He is never early. And He sent forth His Son when the fullness of the time had come.
The Fullness: Religion
The polytheistic religions of the Romans and Greeks left the citizens feeling empty. Historians tell us there was a sense of expectation; a sense of hope that their religions couldn't and didn't fulfi ll. Even in Judaism, there was a Messianic expectation unparalleled in Jewish history. Why? Because for the past 3,500 years, the Jews had been persecuted, hated, controlled by foreign power, and dislocated from their land.
The Fullness: Politics
The Jewish people hated foreign power at the time of Jesus Christ. A little over a century before His birth, a Syrian ruler by the name of Antiochus IV brought a pig into the Jewish temple and slaughtered that pig to a false god—the abomination of abominations in Israel. After this, a group in Israel known as the "zealots" began to form—and they would do anything to overthrow the Roman government.
The Fullness: Civilization
A few hundred years before Jesus, a man named Alexander the Great hit the world scene. His dream was to Hellenize the world—to bring the Greek culture and language everywhere. The Greek dialect is the most accurate, precise, and complete language ever written. The verbs explain moods and show voice and the nouns contain gender. All of this information was packed into the Greek language. By the time Jesus came, the whole world spoke and read Greek. And when Alexander the Great took over Jerusalem in 332 B.C., he encouraged the Jews to colonize themselves around the world—resulting in Greek-speaking Jews reading
Greek Scripture everywhere in the world. By the time Christ came, the human language that God chose to reveal His mind to the world was the most precise and exact and it pervaded the earth. Everybody had access to it.
Yet during this time, Rome ruled the world. And it was their desire to connect every part of their empire to every other part by establishing a road system. Today, we can still walk along Roman roads built 2,000 years ago. Now let's put all of this together. We have a time in which people are spiritually hungry, a pervasive and concise language, and a road system able to carry the Christian gospel around the world. This was truly the fullness of the time—it was the perfect time for Christ to come.
The Fullness: Prophecy
The Bible is filled with prophecies concerning the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And the Jewish people always expected and anticipated the Messiah's coming. But at the exact time that Jesus came, the expectation of the Messiah was never higher. In a book written by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, he said: "Prior to the first century of the Christian era, the Messianic interest was not excessive. The first century, however, when Jesus came, especially the generation before the destruction of the second temple, witnessed a remarkable outburst of Messianic emotionalism." The Messiah was expected around the second quarter of the first century—exactlywhen Jesus was revealed!
What are the odds of one man in history fulfilling forty-eight prophecies? 1 in 10,157. Yet Jesus Christ fulfilled over 400 prophecies in the Old Testament that pointed to the coming Messiah! Remember that next time somebody says, "That was just a coincidence" or "Jesus did that on purpose to fulfill them." Impossible.
The precision that God keeps revolves around the Person that He sent. The Scripture reads: "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4). That's an interesting way of combining a description. God "sent His Son"—sent implies pre-existence. His Son was "born of a woman"—born implies His dual nature. Christ was the God-man: fully God and fully man. He was fully God. He was sent. He existed before God sent Him.
Jesus never became God—He always was God. But He came and He emptied Himself. Before Bethlehem, before the manger, on the cross,after the cross—always God. But He emptied Himself in the incarnation.
Why did He come? To buy us back from the slave market of our sin in this world. To make us His children. To bring us into an everlasting relationship with Him. And that is what makes Christianity so unique and so singular. In the fullness of the time, God sent His Son to save us and to give us eternal life.
Skip Heitzig is the founder and senior pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. His teachings are heard across the country and around the world on The Connection. Skip and his wife, Lenya, and son and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Jana?, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Skip and Lenya are the proud grandparents of Seth Nathaniel and Kaydence Joy.