4 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.Galatians 4:4-7
We go out of our way for the ones we love in the days after Christmas. In the days after Christmas, there is a lot to do for the ones we love. If you got your kids something with instructions, then you need to put it together. If you got your wife a nice purse or earrings, then you need to take her out so she can show them off or you need to donate some of your things so that she has room to store them in the closet. If you get your husband a new toy for one of his hobbies, then you will need to give him time to be alone in the garage, in the office or at the shooting range so that he can learn how to use it safely. In the days after Christmas, God also had more to do for us. In our reading from Galatians 4, we read that through the work done in the days after Christmas, the Father adopted you through the Son.
The work of Jesus for us was the focus of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. All Jesus had done to save them had already been shared with them, but that good news of Jesus was now under attack. There were some Jews in Galatia who were telling the Gentiles they needed to keep the Jewish customs in order to be saved. In other words, it was being taught that someone had to keep laws and trust in their works in order to be saved. Paul was thoroughly disappointed and passionately responded to this throwing out of the gospel by saying, Galatians 3:1-2 “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” The Galatians needed to be reminded that they were not saved by the law, but by faith in Jesus. This is the one, true and universal message of the gospel. It is what God has done for us that saves us, never what we do for God.
In our reading from Galatians 4, Paul clearly reminded the Galatians that the Father loved us by sending Jesus to become one of us. Jesus needed to become one of us because we could not keep God’s law. We are all under God’s law because he is the Creator and we are his creatures. No one escapes being under God’s law. The law of God can be summarized by one word, love, as Jesus said in Matthew 22, 37 “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” We are all under this law of God to love, and when we hear this law, we cannot help but say that it is a good law. At the same time, none of us can keep this law. We are all guilty of breaking God’s law. And we read what happens to anyone who sins in Ezekiel 18:20, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” For these reasons, God sent his Son and guided Paul to write these words, 4 “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.” When Jesus was born, he came to save us from our inability to keep God’s law.
Jesus’ work for us after Christmas meant paying the ultimate price. Even from a young age, Jesus was under attack from the lawbreaking world. In our reading from Matthew 2, we pick up with Joseph, Mary and Jesus after the Magi visited them, and hear, 13 “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’” Even before he was old enough to put together a LEGO set, King Herod was afraid the child would put together a rebellion against him and called for him to be put to death. Herod’s lack of faith in the promised Savior brought him to feel threatened that the Creator of the universe would want to take one of his creature’s little kingdoms. Jesus was no threat to Herod but was under attack because Herod did not follow God’s law. All who break God’s law are against Jesus.
You are a law breaker against Jesus too. You and I are both under God’s law. We are required to keep it, but our sinfulness means we break it, and as law breakers, we deserve punishment. You and I cannot free ourselves from this debt of sin. We need someone who can pay this debt for us and not require we pay them back. In other words, whether you owe a million dollars to a bank or a million dollars to someone who paid the bank your debt of a million dollars, and you have no way of earning even one dollar ever, then either way you will never be out of debt. In the case of the Galatians, this debt was breaking God’s law and the punishment of death. Paul told them Jesus paid the debt and required no repayment. Yet, there was a group in Galatia telling the believers that they did need to repay God even after what Jesus did by keeping his law, which was why again, Paul called them, Galatians 3:1 “Foolish!” You and I are also foolish when we believe we must do something in order to be saved.
You cannot trust in a Savior who requires you pay him back because the debt he paid was something you could never pay in the first place. This idea of paying and repaying takes place in the realm of business. If you have a debt to someone, then you serve them until it is paid. The only way to pay for our sins is death, a debt that once paid leaves us with nothing. This debt was taken care of by Jesus. He died for us. In business terms, our reading from Galatians says that we were “redeemed.” Also, our reading from Galatians leaves behind the imagery of a business place and says that an “adoption” has taken place.
Jesus paid the adoption price for you to be the Father’s child. Jesus paid the full price for your adoption leading Paul to write, 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.” Through Jesus, you and I enjoy the relationship God always wanted for us. You and I are God’s children. His kingdom is our inheritance. A kingdom God describes in Revelation 21:4, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” This is our inheritance through Jesus as God’s adopted children.
The day a child is adopted is like no other. The day a child is taken into the arms of a new father and mother are filled with joy, thankfulness and excitement. Then, there are the days after the adoption. Since, no parent child relationship is ever without its toddler tantrums, teenage rebellions, and impatient fathers and mothers there are days when even adoption loses its joy, thankfulness and excitement. This is all caused by sin and our breaking God’s law to love. This occurs in all our family relationships and also in your relationship with God. There are days when the wonder of God’s adoption us doesn’t seem so great anymore. When we or someone we love suffers, when jobs are lost, when money is tight, when our family doesn’t get along, etc. we wonder why God our Father is not there to make everything right. Our reading from Isaiah 63 reminds us to turn to the past when doubts rise in your mind over God’s love for you. When you doubt that God knows the distress of your heart or that he has the power to save you, these words from Isaiah will never fail you, 9 “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” Throughout the Old Testament, God was with his people. When Israel suffered under slavery in Egypt, he delivered them. When they were disobedient in the desert, he punished them, but never left them without the hope of his deliverance for those who trust in him.
There is never a day when God stops being your Father. When we look at what God did to make us his children, there is no doubt that we are his. God paid the cost to make us his children through Jesus. Jesus was born a human being as one of us and was under his own law. He kept the law perfectly and gave his perfect life as payment for us on the cross. We are no longer slaves, but heirs. We are sons and daughters of God who call out, pray, sing and speak of all the good things he has done for us as Paul reminds us, 6 “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” God’s gift of his Son and the gift of faith through his Spirit have made us his forever.
We go out of our way for the ones we love in the days after Christmas. In the days after Christmas, we do not let our kids put together toys with instructions, husbands go out with their wives after getting them new earrings and wives let their husbands figure out their new toys in the garage alone. When we give gifts, we don’t want more work to be done by our loved ones. In the days after Christmas, God made sure the gift he gave you was complete. His Son freed you from your slavery to sin and made you an heir of eternal life. When tempted to pay God back, turn to what he has done for you and be at peace, the Father adopted you through the Son, and you will live with him forever.Amen.