“God Sent Forth His Son”

(Galatians 4:4-7 – Christmas 1 – December 31, 2017)

Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Dear Redeemed children of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ:

What an amazing truth we hear in our text: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman.”  At Christmas, we came to see the newborn Baby Jesus lying in a manger.  From all outward appearances, He looked like any other baby born into this world.

Of course, it can be said of every one of us that we were “born of a woman.”  And in a sense, it can be said that we all were born in “the fullness of the time.”  For Scripture tells us that from eternity, God – not our parents – planned out exactly when we were to be born and live in this world.  Psalm 139:16 says: In Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  Again Acts 17:26 says of every human who has lived, that God “has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”

Yet, Scripture invites us to look again at this Baby Jesus, to see His unique nature and purpose in being born into this world.  What is said of Him could not be said of any of us, by nature: “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.”  What the angel told Mary about His miraculous conception and virgin birth could not be said of our beginnings: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).  How amazing it is that God’s Son, who existed with His Father from eternity, not bound by time, was sent to us “when the fullness of the time had come.”  He who is the infinite Creator of all, not bound by the limits of His universe, Himself became part of His creation – and as a tiny newborn infant at that!

Besides the unique nature of God’s Son, born at Christmas, our text reveals more amazing things about the reason “God Sent Forth His Son.”  It tells us that 1) He was born under the Law to redeem us, 2) That we might receive the adoption as sons.  Yes, God sent His eternal Son to be born in time, so He could make us His eternal children to live with Him in heaven!

1) He was born under the Law to redeem us

Our text explains how God worked this out for us.  It says of Jesus that He was “born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.”

God sent His Son to redeem us, to set us free.  Free from what?  From our captivity to sin.  Galatians 3:22-23 says: “The Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.”  Before God’s Son came to redeem us, God’s Law declared us all to be confined as prisoners of sin, needing our Redeemer.  Only through faith in Jesus’ saving work are we now set free from sin’s prison.

When you and I look in the mirror, do we see people who need to be set free from prison?  That is how Scripture describes our natural condition as sinners.  Look at it this way.  True freedom means to live in the fullness of life God intended for us.  This means living at peace with Him who made us – delighting to obey Him who loves us, because obedience is how we show love back to Him.  This is freedom – to live as children of God who bask in the warmth of His Fatherly love, joyfully returning His love and sharing His love with one another!

But when we look into the mirror of God’s Law, we see something different.  When we hear His commandments, we should always respond in willing and loving obedience.  But instead, we see our sinful nature at work in us.  As the apostle Paul confessed in Romans 7:22-23: “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Yes, in our fallen nature we were in captivity to sin.  As naturally born children of Adam and Eve, we did not live in the freedom of God’s children or the fullness of life He intended.  By nature, we did not live at peace with God, joyfully serving Him.  Instead, we were at enmity with God, living in fear of the curse of sin which is death.

This is why it is so amazing to hear what God did for us: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.”  When we were not even looking for redemption, God – in His own time and His own purpose of grace – sent forth His Son to set us free.  The divine Judge saw us sitting in our prison cells of sin on eternal death row.  He had a plan to save us from the punishment we deserved for our sin, a plan that came from His heart of love.  Since we have so miserably failed to obey His Law, He sent His own Son to live under the Law in our place.  The divine Judge decided that His Son’s obedience under the Law would count in His court, instead of our record of sin, so that we could be judged innocent and set free.

In order to do this, God’s Son had to live fully under the Law given to man, as a Man Himself.  Our Substitute had to be perfect in every way from the moment of His human conception, so that His whole life would count for our whole life, from conception to death.  Since Jesus had no sinful nature, He did live as our perfect Substitute under the Law; and so, He sanctifies our entire life before God.

We see Jesus fulfilling the Law of God even in His infancy, as recorded in Luke 2.  Already at eight days old, Jesus was circumcised as the Law required of every Jewish boy (Luke 2:21).  So our Savior shed blood the first time, as part of fulfilling the Law and all righteousness for us.  Then in our Gospel Lesson today, the baby Jesus was presented at God’s temple, 40 days after His birth.  According to the Ceremonial Law God had given the Jews, after a mother’s time of purification, a firstborn son was to be consecrated and presented to the Lord in His service.  This involved sacrifice as a redemption price (Leviticus 12; Numbers 18:15-16; Luke 2:22-24).  And so, the firstborn Son of God was presented before God in His service as our Redeemer.

Isn’t it amazing to see how our Lord Jesus, who is above the Law as God, and did not need to keep it for His own sake, yet for our sake submitted to all the Law when He took on our flesh?  From the very beginning of His life, right down to the last detail, Jesus was fulfilling all righteousness for us.

Not only was His life perfect in every way for us.  He also did all that it took to remove the sin that captivated us, and free us from the curse of death which the Law demands for sin.  Galatians 3:13 says: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).”  This is why God sent His Son, born of woman – so that His innocent little hands and feet could one day be pierced as He hung on the cross – cursed for our sin, paying the redemption price for us.

So in the face of the newborn Baby Jesus, let us see our Redeemer, whom God sent forth to live His life and to give His life for us, to set us free from sin and death!

2) That we might receive adoption as sons

Our text tells us more about the amazing reason why God sent forth His Son.  It was so “that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

We who were conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5) were not God’s natural children by birth.  The picture in God’s Word is one of adoption.  Just as earthly parents may adopt a child who was not born to them, and then treat that child with the same love and status they would show a natural child, so God has treated us in Christ.  In fact, it can be compared to a person paying the price to set free a slave child from an abusive owner; and then turning around to adopt that child, giving him a wonderful new status as a son, with all the love and blessings that come with that new status.

Though we were not God’s natural children, by His grace He chose to adopt us.  He even paid the price of His own Son’s life to free us from slavery to sin and Satan, and adopt us as His children!  Our adoption was sealed when He sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts, bringing us to faith in His Son as our Savior.  As it says:  “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Now, we live with the full rights of God’s children, as heirs of eternal life with His Son.  In our hearts we have His Spirit crying out: “Abba, Father!”  This expression, “Abba,” is a term of endearment Hebrew children used for their fathers – like when children today might say “Daddy.”  Think of how a loving father responds when he hears his little child say, “Abba, may I have a glass of water?” or “Abba, hold my hand.”  He will see that his dear little child is well taken care of and comforted.

This is how it is, now that we are God’s children through faith in His Son.  No longer must we live as slaves of fear, trying to find our own way to get right with God, anxious about the future or about death.  We can confidently look up to God as our loving Father, who has been so good to us, and ask His help in every need.  For we ask it in the name of His Son, Jesus, who Himself became a Child to give us the full rights of God’s children.

Think of how our loving heavenly Father responds, as He hears us pray by the Spirit of His Son in our hearts: “Abba, Father, help me and give me what I need…  Abba, Father, hold my hand and comfort me.”  He will see that His dear children are well taken care of.  He who has thousands upon thousands of angels at His command, knows how to send us help and protection.  He who holds the universe together by His Word, holds us close to His heart.  He assures us: “My dear child, I am working all things together for your good” (Romans 8:28).

Now, we are free to return our heavenly Father’s love, as children who delight in His ways and desire to bring Him glory.  We are free to share His love in Christ with each other, in the true peace and joy of beloved children who are well taken care of!

As we look again at the Baby Jesus, lying in the manger, are we not amazed to see His unique nature and purpose in being born into this world?  God sent forth His Son to redeem us from our sin and give us adoption us as His own children!  In the face of this Baby in the manger, who would suffer and die for us, and rise again, we can see beyond our present hardships and death to the eternal glory we will share with Him!  In the lowly birth of this Child in a stable, we can see beyond our lowly place in this world to the wonderful place He is preparing for us in His heavenly mansions!  Let us praise the God of love, who sent forth His eternal Son in the fullness of time, so He could make us His eternally blessed children!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  Amen.