The three great world forces when Jesus came were the Roman, the Greek, and the Hebrew. The Roman was the nation of government, the Greek of culture, and the Hebrew of religion. The militarism of Rome utterly despised Judea, looking down upon it as one of the small and turbulent provinces, always to be kept in subjection. The Roman was certainly not waiting for a new king to be born in Judea.
And what was the attitude of Greece? The cultured men of Greece held in contempt the religion of the Hebrews. Hellenism and Hebraism were utterly opposed as ideals of life. The Greek would have treated with the utterest scorn the idea that a new teacher could arise out of Hebraism. All this serves to show that there was not, neither could there be, any welcome to the Savior from the world as it was when He came. He was neither expected nor desired. All the known world was in a spirit of unrest, but men had no conception of the character of the deliverance really needed, and therefore Jesus came unrecognized and unknown. There was no welcome for Him.
But the time was now ripe in the economy of God for His advent, for man in sin had sunk to deepest depths. The world has never had a more powerful government than the Roman, and in many respects Greek culture has never been surpassed; but in spite of all this, sin was rampant. While there still exists terrible corruption in the world today, there is nothing to compare with the pollution of life when Jesus Christ came. Corruption was everywhere, and that in spite of the best that men could do in government, in culture, and in religion.
Adapted from The Crises of the Christ, Book I, Chapter VI, by G. Campbell Morgan.