Sermon on Galatians 4:4-7
1st Sunday after Christmas
Christmastime is About Family
Text: Galatians 4:4-7
The stories and memories that come from Christmas are just priceless. Mothers cherish the moment that their daughter received her first pair of earrings. Fathers fondly recall the days they stayed up well beyond midnight putting every last sticker and decal on their son’s new toys. All of us can remember like yesterday that one surprise gift we got when we were little that made us do a little victory dance around the living room because we were so excited.
There are other memories that are more on the funny side. One Preschool dad told me the last week of school that they had recorded their entire Christmas experience on camcorder a few years ago, only to find that it was held upside down the entire time. Yesterday we were opening presents with Noah and the excitement on his face was precious. “Ooh! Buzz Lightyear crayons!” Then he tossed it quickly onto his pile and said, “Ooh, another one with my name on it!” Later in the day Becky had some bacon frying in the pan and forgot she left it in the pan. I walked out of the bedroom and wasn’t sure if the smoke detectors were going to go off or if the glory of the Lord had filled our kitchen.
But this is what we love about Christmastime. Christmastime is About Family. Christmastime is when we make memories with our families. It’s a time to cherish those we love and those that we are close to. It’s a time to be thankful for those that we call family. That’s what makes Christmas so special. Christmastime is About Family.
Time is something that is God’s specialty. As a God who is eternal with no beginning and no end, he stands outside the bounds of time. The Bible reminds us that with God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. It is hard for humans to understand, but God is not bound by the limits of time as he can look into the past, present, and future all at once. And as the one who created everything, including time, God knows the perfect timing for everything.
There is no greater example than with his Son, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Galatians 4. He writes, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman.” When the time had fully come, when the time was just right and absolutely perfect, God sent his Son.
Jesus was born at a time when the Romans were in control of most of the entire world. The Romans were very structured. They were very smart. And the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, wanted to know exactly how vast his kingdom had become. He wanted to know how many people he could tax. So, “Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world . . . and everyone went to his own town to register.” This meant that a man named Joseph had to take his wife-to-be to his home town of Bethlehem to register. There Jesus was born just as Micah had prophesied 700 years earlier, to a virgin just as Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier. This was no coincidence.
These same Romans also were very strict with their laws and rules. The had a terrible form of capital punishment they invented that was only for the worst of the worst—for rebels, for slaves, for terrible criminals. It was called crucifixion. This was the death that was waiting for the baby Jesus, just as Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier and David prophesied 1,000 years earlier. This was no coincidence.
Later on, when Christians were being persecuted by the Romans, they were actually able to flee to all the corners of the earth on the very roads that the Romans had built for commerce. As they fled, they shared the good news of Jesus everywhere they went. And they were able to share the message with everyone in the world because the Greek language was still known by everyone, a remnant from Alexander the Great’s kingdom before the Romans. Greek was also then the language of the New Testament.
These things are not some strange coincidence. God, who controls all time, knew the exact and precise time for Christ to enter this world. What a wise and powerful God we have! This is why Paul rightly says, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman.”
He was born for two important reasons. First Paul says that he was “born under law.” God’s laws are the things that he demands. From “You shall have no other gods” to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” to “You shall not steal” to “You shall not commit adultery.” The word law is a summary of all things that God commands us to do or forbids us not to do.
There’s an interesting App that just came out for the iPhone for Christmas. (For those of an older generation an iPhone App is software for your mobile phone) This new application is a Santa counter. Every time your child does something naughty you press a certain button. Every time your child does something nice you press a different button. So if the color is green then the scale is weighing toward the nice, but if the color is red the child has done more things that are naughty.
I’ve said it before, I’m not even going to go there with Santa and the naughty or nice meter. But imagine if God used this little piece of software to track everything you have done. What if God tracked on an iPhone all the times that you have been naughty? It’s a good thing he is God, because only he would be able to press the naughty button fast enough!
But I don’t need a mobile phone application to tell me. I’ve done plenty of bad things in my life—things I would never want you to know about. There have also been plenty of times that I have not done good things in my life—I was too lazy, too scared, or just didn’t care. This means that I have broken God’s laws. I have broken the law more times than an iPhone could even count. You have too. That means that we are sinners.
But this why Jesus came into the world. He came to be “born under the law.” He came to be subjected to all the same demands and commands as everyone else. The difference is that Jesus is God. He came to do it perfectly. He came to live under his Father’s laws and fulfill every command and to obey every demand. He came to live a perfect life in our place. That’s the first part of Jesus’ purpose and our salvation.
Paul continues: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law.” The second part of our salvation is redemption. Jesus lived the perfect life for us that God demands, but our sins still needed to be paid for. God says that, “the wages of sin is death.” God says that, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” There is a price to pay and a punishment for disobeying a righteous God. It’s death and hell.
You see, the Santa tracker iPhone application is so misleading. If you do naughty things in life, if you commit sins, you don’t just get a flashing red light that says, “You’re naughty.” You don’t lose out on Christmas presents from a jolly old man in a red suit. Reality is that if you sin and disobey God, you die and go to hell.
This is where redemption comes in. Jesus gave his life so that he could be our substitute. He carried the guilt of our sins. He suffered the fiery torture of hell. He died. That is God’s demand. When there is sin, there must be death and bloodshed. So that is what Jesus did. He shed his blood and died to pay for all of sins. In doing so, he redeemed us.
What remarkable, incredible, unfathomable love from our God! At just the right time, he “sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law.” God sent Jesus into this world at the perfect time to save us through his perfect life and his suffering and death in our place.
The result is mind-boggling. Listen to Paul, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” The result of our redemption through Jesus Christ is that we have been adopted into God’s own family. He considers us to be his own dearly loved sons and daughters.
He continues, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba,’ Father.” God the Holy Spirit has worked in our hearts to create faith and trust in Jesus. Through that faith we have been adopted as children. And having the privilege of being called children, we can call our God “Abba” or “Father.” Abba was an Aramaic term of endearment for fathers. So in other words, we can call out with love and trust to God as a little child calls out to his father here in this world.
Everyone who is a father here knows the passion that he has for his children. A father will do anything for his children—defend them, protect them, provide for them, give his life for them. How much more hasn’t our Father in heaven done for us! He defends us, guides us, protects us, provides for us. He even sent his Son to give his life for us. It gives new and special meaning to praying, “Our Father who art in heaven.”
Even better, there is a special privilege that come with being God’s own dear children. Paul mentions it in the last verse: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” We used to be slaves. We used to be slaves to sin, bound and chained to the wrongs that we have done and destined to die in the prison called hell. But having been redeemed through Jesus Christ, we are no longer slaves. We are his children. And as his children we no have also become heirs.
Heirs always receive a gift. They didn’t do anything special to get that gift. It was simply willed to them. When a person dies, that gift is transferred to the inheritor.
When Jesus died, the gift of forgiveness was willed to us. The gift of a new spiritual life was given to us. The gift of eternal life in heaven became our inheritance to receive. There is nothing special that we have done. There is nothing that we did to get. It is our free gift through Jesus Christ.
We love Christmastime because we love family time. We love to spend time with those whom we love. We love to enjoy the company of those whom we call family.
God planned it the exact same way! Christmastime is About Family! God sent his Son Jesus to be born into this world so that he could live for us and die for us, and thus make us part of his family! Celebrate Christmas this year. Have fun with your families. Even better, celebrate Christmas this year because God has made you part of his family!
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