January 6, 2018 [Christmas 2]  Galatians 4:4-7  J.D.Roekle

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are 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 a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

 

Christmas Is for Children

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Christmas is for children.  In a way, I don’t think any of us find that statement surprising or out of order.  Just think about how the celebration of Christmas tends to cater to children.  Stores set up special toy sections just for kids.  There are various organizations such as Tex Reynolds’ Toys for Tots that exist to make sure even children in low income households can receive Christmas gifts.  Think of how many Christmas songs are written specifically with children in mind.  There are countless activities during the weeks leading up to Christmas which are designed specifically for kids.

And the church is no different.  We do many things with kids in mind.  We have the Wisconsin Lutheran School children present a Christmas service.  We have our Sunday School present the traditional Christmas Eve service.  Brown paper bags with peanuts, fruit, and candy is given out to children.  A few weeks before Christmas we hold a Christmas for Kids event.  And the list goes on.

So, to say that Christmas is for children is accurate.  And yet, we don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that you have to be under 18 in order to enjoy or be a part of the Christmas celebration.  The words of our text today will lead us to understand that Christmas is for children in another way.  For one:  it is for the child of God who was born a man.  And for two: it is for the children of men who are adopted by God. 

          The picture of being a prisoner is one Paul paints in the verses toward the end of the previous chapter of Galatians.  Now you may not be able to relate to that, but he tells his listeners that the world is a prisoner of sin.  And he also states that all who do not have faith are prisoners. 

          Sin holds us in bondage.  It is impossible for us to free ourselves from it.  And not only that, we tend to be okay with it.  In fact, by nature we think that not being within the confines of sin means to deprive ourselves of a good time. 

          But God’s law makes us conscious of the fact that we are prisoners of sin.  It makes us conscious of the fact that this can only lead to bad things.  It leads us to understand that the death penalty is ahead for us.  Eternal death is hell’s prison. 

And so what is our solution to the problem?  We are inclined to cling to that very law which condemns us.  I can overcome sin…I just need to try harderFrom now on, I’ll be goodI might have done some bad things, but I’ve never done anything as bad as that person

It is safe to say, we like our own solutions to the problem.  We wouldn’t even think of crying out to God for help, let alone look for a redeemer from him. 

But in spite of all that, God gave us exactly the solution we needed.  He sent his Son.  The solution is that God decided to come to us!  And no, he didn’t come to us like he came to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  There he somehow communicated with them as God.  It is difficult to even explain that encounter.  Or think about God appearing to Moses in the burning bush.  Again, God somehow communicated to Moses through the burning bush.

But the whole reason we celebrate Christmas is to mark that God the Son came to us in the flesh.  Remember, God doesn’t have flesh and bones like we do.  God is a spirit, without a body.  And yet, God became like one of us. 

And it isn’t as if he just appeared as an adult.  He was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary.  Conceived by the Holy Spirit so that he would not have any inherent sin in him.  He developed in Mary’s womb for 10 months.  Mary gave birth to him naturally just like many or most babies.  Joseph would have had to cut the umbilical cord just like many fathers do today. 

And also, as soon as this Son of God was born, he put himself under the supervision of all the laws that people are subjected to.  Even though he was the one who made the law, the Son of God, Jesus, put himself under the very law he gave.  He put himself under all the laws that man made too.  He was subject to the Jewish religious leaders of the day, as well as the Roman government. 

And why did he do that?  Why did he become one of us in every way, only without sin?  He did it “to redeem those under the law.”  You see the law required a payment that was much greater than any of us could ever pay.  It first demanded perfection.  That was impossible for any of us to achieve.  But not for the Son of God.  He lived perfectly under the law.  He did everything God demanded.  He followed his parents perfectly.  He always did everything required of him. 

          And now because we have sinned, a payment for that sin was required.  The payment needed to be made in blood.  And our blood wouldn’t do it.  It needed to be more precious.  It needed to be the blood of one who never sinned and who could cover all people.  It needed to be the blood of God’s Son, Jesus. 

          Christmas is all about children.  It is about the child of God who was born a man in order to redeem us, so that the children of men could be adopted by God. 

          What a wonderful thing that adoption is.  How much greater is it to be adopted by God!  We needed to be adopted by him, because we weren’t part of his family by nature.  We were in bondage.  And the picture here is that we were in bondage as a slave. 

          A slave doesn’t have any rights.  He is owned by his master.  Our master by nature is Satan.  We are under his control.  And under his control, it only means death and eternal misery and destruction. 

          But because Christ Jesus took of human flesh to redeem us, we are no longer slaves of Satan.  By faith we are God’s adopted children.  As such, we are able to call to him: “Abba, Father.”  “Abba” is the Aramaic word for Father.  It is an endearing term where a Hebrew child could call to their Father with full confidence that Dad would take care of their needs.  A child would call to Abba for something to eat or drink with the full confidence that they would be refreshed.  Or a child would tell Abba that he was frightened, and Abba would take him by the hand to comfort him. 

          That is the kind of confidence that you can have as you call out to Abba, your heavenly Father.  You can have confidence that because of the redemption that Christ won for you; because you are now children of the heavenly Father, that he will hear you whenever you speak to him, and he will take care of all your needs. 

          In fact, as God’s adopted children, you have “the full rights of sons.”  You have all the rights and privileges of being a child of God the Father.  You have all the blessings that come along with it.  And that includes being heirs. 

          What kind of inheritance have you received or perhaps what kind of inheritance are you waiting for?  Whatever it is, it can’t compare to the inheritance that is ours in Christ.  We are heirs of eternal life.  Heaven is our real home! 

          To say that Christmas is for Children, we wouldn’t disagree.  But as Children of God, we think of it in another way.  At Christmas, God’s own Son became a man, so that we as children of men could be God’s own, now and always.  Amen.