First Sunday after Christmas Day (December 31, 2017)
Galatians 4:4-7 | New Living Translation (NLT)
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Three short and yet very powerful verses about the birth of Jesus. Why was Jesus born? Why did Jesus come? Over the past four weeks, we have been looking at being prepared for Jesus’ coming. On Monday, we began the celebration of his coming or better yet, His incarnation. Here is Jesus, the one who will save his people from their sins. That’s what the angel told Joseph. Even his name means God saves.
Paul tells us when the right time came, that God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. Interesting…I’ve heard theories about why Jesus was born at the time he was born. In the ancient empire of Rome, it was the perfect time. The Roman Empire covered most of the known world at the time. The Roman roads were world renown for their construction and they connected all parts of the empire. Therefore, it was easy for the news of Jesus birth to be spread throughout the empire. We see this with the rise of Christianity after Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Roman empire. Jesus was born at the right time.
Also interesting and Paul shares similar thoughts elsewhere, Jesus (as we learn in Philippians 2) willingly humbled himself – he gave up everything that made him God – and willingly made himself a human. He came as a human baby, with all of our limitations. He came as a human body, subject to the same human laws that we are subject to. And also subject to the same law that His Father, God, laid down for the Jewish people. Jesus emptied himself of all that made him God and became subject to his creation so that he could save us and purchase our freedom. Before Jesus came, the people were subject to the law and as Paul reminds us in Romans, we are not able, as much as we try to live completely within the law. Yes, I believe that there were righteous people – as we see in the Advent and Christmas narrative. But it was their faith in God and their obedience to God that put them in right standing with God. Jesus paid the price – one time and for all people – so that we are free from the penalty of the law, which is death.
What’s really cool in all this is that he wanted us to be his adopted children with all the rights and responsibilities of children born of God. How cool is that? Even more, God gave us the Spirit of his Son – the Holy Spirit so that we could live as sons and daughters and not slaves. Here again Paul uses the phrase, “Abba, Father” which in the Greek literally means “Daddy!” God wants us to be his children and he gave us Jesus so that we could have a way to a relationship with the Father. Not only a relationship, but we are heirs, meaning that we inherit all of God’s riches. One of the cool things about that is we don’t have to wait for God to die to inherit those riches…they are already available for us who are living by faith. If we obey his commands and live by faith, receive Jesus into our hearts we have the same rights and the same inheritance as Jesus…just because Jesus came at the right time!