Sermon on Galatians 4:4-7
Text: But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
‘So, what did you get for Christmas?’ ‘Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?’ You hear quite a few questions like these in the days following Christmas. As you look over the gifts that were given to you, you can surely see the love that others have for you. You can tell that they took some time and gave some thought in giving you your gift. Those gifts are another evidence of their love for you. Of course, these gifts serve as reminders of the greatest gift that was ever given: the gift of a Son by a Father for us. This morning, as we look at Galatians 4:4-7, we are reminded that GOD SENT HIS SON 1. To Be With Us Under Law and 2. To Make Us One With Him Through Christ.
We read verses 4&5, “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” In that one sentence we have the story and meaning of Christmas summarized for us. “When the set time had fully come.” God had a particular point in history set up for the arrival of his Son. All the conditions were just as God wanted them. The world had been prepared for his Son’s arrival.
“God sent his Son, born of a woman.” Here we have reference to the divine mystery of Jesus Christ. He was both true God and true Man. He is God’s Son, yet also the Son of Mary. The Bible does not spend a great deal of time explaining this. Indeed, it cannot. Instead, Scriptures merely states this as fact. Jesus Christ was true God and true Man.
We are reminded of Christ’s mission on earth with the words, “Born under the law, to redeem those under the law.” Jesus Christ was born a human being so that he would be subject to God’s law. God is the author of the law; he is not subject to it. He can take life, for he gave it. He cannot steal, for everything in the universe belongs to him. Yet, the moment that Jesus was born, he became subject to God’s laws. He was under obligation to keep all of them. Because Jesus was a human being, the words of Leviticus 20 also applied to him: “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them . . . You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy.” (Leviticus 20:22.26) Jesus, as a human being, had to keep all of God’s law perfectly.
He did just that. We have recorded time and again how Jesus kept the law perfectly. It started eight days after Jesus’ birth, when he was circumcised according to God’s law. He went to Jerusalem for Passover as soon as he was old enough. Jesus kept all these laws of God perfectly, as well as all of the others.
Why? “To redeem those under the law.” He did so to redeem us from our sins. The word “redeem” means to “Buy back or ransom.” We were held captive by our sins. We deserved to spend an eternity in hell because of those sins. But Jesus came to the earth to be our Substitute. He lived the perfect life that we could not live. He, then, shed his blood on the cross to pay for all our sins, to ransom us from the punishment that we deserved. Indeed, we cannot look at the little child in Bethlehem without realizing that those tiny little hands would be “pierced for our transgressions.” The child would be “crushed for our iniquities.” That was the whole purpose for Jesus’ arrival on the earth. It was to redeem us to be his own. God sent his Son to be with us under the law to redeem us from that law that held us captive.
That is still the central thought of the Christmas season. The cross looms over the cradle in Bethlehem. Christ’s death and resurrection give us the reason to celebrate Christmas. If it were not for the cross and empty grave, these days would be as sad as all the others, for we would still be in our sins. However, God sent his Son to be our Substitute. What better reason could we have for celebration?
God’s sending his Son makes us one with him. The reason we have been redeemed, Paul tells us, is “That we might receive adoption to sonship.” We were not God’s sons, by birth. We were children of sin. But, through the blood of Jesus, we have been adopted into his family. We are God’s sons. Paul uses the word “sonship” rather than “children,” because he is pointing to rights that we have. In Paul’s day, daughters rarely inherited anything, nor did they have many rights. That is why Paul uses the term “sonship” to refer to us, both male and female, for we have rights and stand to inherit a great deal.
He says, first of all, in verse six, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” This is a privilege that has been given to each one of us. The Holy Spirit has come into our hearts. He dwells within each one of us. It is that Holy Spirit who creates faith in our hearts. Faith is a child-like trust in someone or something. We trust that Jesus has done all that was necessary for our salvation. We trust that God will take care of us. This trust comes to us through the working of the Holy Spirit.
Because we have been brought to faith, we can call God “Father.” We call him “Father,” not only because he created us, but, also, because he is our Father through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.
We call God “Father.” More than that, we call him “Abba.” Abba is an Aramaic word. It is the word a child would use to address their father. The closest equivalent that we would have today is “Dad.” There are several instances when we might think of a child using the word “Dad.” One of them is in love. If a father has been gone for a while and comes home, the child might run to him saying, “Dad!”. He can feel the love the child has for him. So also, we express our love for God, because he has done so much for us. We express our love in our prayers and songs of praise to God. We, also, express our love in doing things that are pleasing to him. It is similar to a child drawing a picture for their father. The child doesn’t draw the picture to repay him. Rather, it is an expression of affection for them.
Dad might also be used when the child wants something. ‘Dad, I want a drink of water?’ ‘Dad, can you help me with this?’ There is a confidence that the father will supply whatever is lacking, whether it is as simple as a drink of water or help finding the answer to a schoolwork problem. So also, we can have the same confidence in approaching God as our Father. He has promised to supply all our needs. If we are in need, we know that we can go to God for help. He, as a loving Father, will help us in the way that is the best for us, even if it means saying ‘No.’ Good parenting means that, at times, we will say ‘No’ to our children. If that is the case with us sinful parents, who sometimes say ‘No’ for selfish reasons and who make mistakes, how much more so is it true of our perfect heavenly Father, who knows all things.
“Dad” also has a trusting element. If the child is frightened, he might ask, ‘Dad, would you hold my hand?’. He might ask, ‘Dad, would you come here?’. Just knowing that Dad is there helps to alleviate any fears that they might have. So also, we need not be afraid whatever comes our way, because our heavenly Father has promised to stay right beside us, guarding, and keeping us. Earthly fathers may not always be able to take care of what frightens the child, but our heavenly Father can do so. Being able to call God, the Creator of the universe, “Father” is a blessed privilege for each of us, his children.
Verse seven continues, “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” We are all heirs of God. We stand to inherit something. On the Last Day, our inheritance will be given to us. Jesus speaks of this inheritance when he says in Matthew 25:34, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” That inheritance is nothing less than heaven. That is ours because we are God’s children. An eternity of bliss and happiness with our heavenly Father awaits each of us. How we long for that day when we shall receive from our Father’s hand the crown of eternal life. Eternal life is ours because God sent his Son, and through his blood, made us his children. The gift of his Son makes all believers the sons of God. God sent his Son to make us one with him.
So, what was your favorite gift this Christmas? I’m sure that many, if not all of us, received some wonderful gifts. I would imagine if you would ask some of the younger children what their favorite gift was, their answer would depend on what they are playing with at the moment. However, as all those gifts are put away, may the gift of God remain a part of your lives every day. May God’s gift of his Son move us to say “Thank you” in all that we say, do and think. Indeed, it is true that, if we were asked what our favorite gift was, we can answer the same thing every year: “God’s gift of his Son.” May that gift illume all your days, until you are together with all of God’s children for eternity. Amen.
St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches ©2024 All rights reserved.