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The Sum Total of the Christmas Message
Generally people don’t look at what the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Galatian Church when bringing forth a Christmas message. Rather, we look to the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. But what I would like to share with you is what I consider to be the sum total of the Christmas message from what Paul said in this particular passage of Scripture.
There has never been a day when religious life is more superficial than it is today. Now, people have been saying this for centuries, but every year it just seems to be getting worse, as Christians seem to be more content to stay on the edge and dwell upon the surface of their faith.
And to the majority of people, Christmas means little more than overcrowded shops, overpriced merchandise, and overstuffed stomachs. For most people Christmas is simply a time of giving and hopefully receiving more than they give.
Yet, Christmas, out of all the holidays should be an occasion of gladness, especially seeing what Paul says, because once someone understands the spiritual significance of Christmas, the joy of the Lord for all eternity will be theirs.
On that night heaven opened up upon this sin darkened world as a multitude of angels broke forth into praise and worship, because God came to this earth as a small baby wrapped in clothes of poverty and laid in the feeding trough of animals so that He could be that perfect sinless sacrifice for our sins; to be that Lamb of God that takes upon Himself the sins of the world.
Let’s take a look at Paul’s most unusual Christmas message.
“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.” (Galatians 4:4-7 NKJV)
To see this Christmas message, I would like to ask and then answer several questions. Please join along with me in your notes.
Question: When Did the Birth of Jesus Occur?
Answer: In The Fullness of Time
“But when the fullness of the time had come.”
God isn’t haphazard about anything. God is the source and center of all order. He is the greatest clockmaker of them all. In other words, God’s clock never has to go to the repair shop nor does it ever need new batteries.
Did you know that Astronomers can so accurately predict the movements of the heavens that they can tell you exactly when the next eclipse of the sun or moon will take place a hundred years from now? That is how undeviating the course of God’s creation is.
Further, the Bible says that God doesn’t change, Malachi 2:6. Therefore, God had an appointed time for this great event to occur from the very foundations of the universe, from the very beginning of time, even before time itself came into existence.
So what we must remember is that God’s redemptive plan for humanity wasn’t some divine afterthought on the part of God. In other words, after Adam and Eve blew it, God didn’t says, Well I go to come up with something.” No! The Apostle Peter said that all God’s works are known by Him throughout all eternity, Acts 15:18. And so God predetermined Jesus’ coming, and told it to the prophets.
Through the prophet Daniel the Lord said that 483 years after the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem that the Messiah the Prince would come and die, which was the exact time Jesus came.
So the people knew they were in the time of the Messiah, which is why the religious leaders asked John the Baptist if he were the one, which he denied, while at the same time telling them that the one coming next would be greater than he and who’s sandals he was unworthily to untie.
And so when Jesus arrived on the scene, the people wondered the same about Him, even proclaiming Him as the Messiah a couple of days prior to His crucifixion. You see, God had set it up, and it was something that the people could count on.
As Americans we are a very impatient people. We live in a society of instant everything; instant food, news, and weather. We want things right when we want them. Think about it, when personal computers came on the market it took over a minute to get to the programs we wanted to load and see. Now, if it takes more than a couple of seconds we’re pounding the monitor.
The unfortunate part is that we bring this attitude into our relationship with God and into the things of God. We want our prayers answered right now. We want God to work on our behalf right now. And when difficulties persist and we don’t see God moving, we become impatient and start working it out for ourselves.
But God’s timing is not our own. What Paul reminds us is that God is never too early and He is never too late. The Lord is always right on time.
Jesus came in the fullness of time. And what that means is that what God has promised He will deliver, and it will never fall short of its intended mark. The Lord says, “As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and does not return there, but waters the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10 NKJV)
And then He says,
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV)
Such surety about God and His word should comfort us and inspire us with confidence. Just as God accomplished His word in the birth of Jesus, so will God keep the promises He has made to us.
God’s word is more enduring than any material thing could ever be. God has inspired it, therefore His word has never failed, nor will it ever fail. Just as Jesus came the first time in the “fullness of time,” so will He come again just as God’s word promises.
Question: What Did God Do?
Answer: He Sent His Son
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.”
Jesus’ life didn’t begin as a baby in a manger. This child is none other than the Lord God of heaven and earth. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. The Apostle John says,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1-2, 14a NKJV)
Speaking of the coming Messiah the prophet Isaiah said,
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9 NKJV)
Some say Jesus was an extraordinary person, a moral human being who taught great and wonderful things, but in saying this they miss the truth and purpose of His coming. He came to take upon Himself the sins of humanity, paying the penalty price and dieing in our stead.
And for those who do not see Him as such miss out on the Christmas God desires for them. You see, the fundamental message of Christmas is not peace on earth good will to men, but the fundamental message of Christmas is that God sent forth His Son to take our place and die our death so that we can have peace with Him.
Question: How Did Jesus Come? This is a two-part answer
Answer #1: Made of a Woman
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.”
Jesus didn’t take upon Himself the nature of an angel, but rather He took upon Himself the form of His highest creation, a human being.
Remember the words God spoke when He created humanity, He said, “Let Us make man in Our image and according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). Jesus clothed Himself in humanity because humanity was created in His image and after His likeness. Not only was Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, but also He was wrapped in human flesh.
But why say, “Made of a woman?” To understand this we must begin with what the Lord told Satan back at the Garden.
“From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen. 3:15 NLT)
As we look at this world, all we see is Satan’s slimy trail and venomous bites. And while Satan took bites at Jesus’ heal, Jesus crushed his head when He died upon the cross and on the third day rose from the dead. But that’s not all. Jesus is coming back and will toss Satan forever into the Lake of Fire.
Concerning the Messiah’s coming, the prophet Isaiah foretold the miracle of incarnation, that is, God in human form.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NKJV)
The name, “Immanuel,” means God with us.
The miracle of incarnation is that Jesus was born of a woman, but not conceived by a human father; rather God the Father begot him. This is the miracle of Christmas. This is what the angel told to Mary.
“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 NKJV)
Today, this miracle of Christmas, the incarnation, is dismissed by many as an elaborate fable. But what they fail to realize is that we’re talking about God, and as such fail to believe in God. Instead they would rather believe in a god of their own understanding and making.
But take a moment and think about and listen to what the prophet Jeremiah says,
“O Sovereign Lord! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
Answer #2: Made Under the Law
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”
The writer of Hebrews tells us that we have Jesus as our Great High Priest.
“One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26 NIV)
Being made under the law required Jesus to be subject to the Laws that He Himself created. And He was obedient to them. The writer of Hebrews says that as the High Priest Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, because He Himself was tempted as we are, but He didn’t succumb to the temptations; rather He was without sin, Hebrews 4:15.
Jesus was completely obedient to the law, and because of that He became that perfect sinless sacrifice required by the law to pay the penalty price for our sin.
Of His obedience, Paul says,
“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV)
This then leads me to the next question
Question: Why Did Jesus Come?
Answer: To Redeem Us All
“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.”
We are all under the law, and as such subject to its requirements and consequences. And so Jesus came in the fullness of time, born of a women, and made under the law, to redeem all of us who are subject to the law.
Jesus came to be our redeemer. And the only way that He could redeem us is by fulfilling the requirements of the law, thus paying the penalty for our sins pursuant to the Law.
Jesus didn’t come to help us live a moral and upright life, to bring another philosophy of life, or to set up a new form of government. Jesus came to pay the ransom price required by the law for our sins, something that none of us could ever do on our own.
The Psalmist said,
Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave (Psalms 49:8-9 NLT)
The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and that everyone has sinned. So the cost is beyond our ability to pay. So what is the cost to ransom our souls? As the old spiritual says, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Jesus paid the penalty. Jesus our Redeemer blots out our sins by nailing them to the cross, and by doing so disarmed all of Satan’s schemes against us, Colossians 2:15.
This brings me to the last question
Question: Why Did Jesus Do All of That?
Answer: That We Might Receive the Adoption of Sons
“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.”
Jesus didn’t come to give some nice Christmas presents; rather He came to give us the greatest present of them all, to redeem us and to make us children of God, members of God’s divine family. Because of this Paul says that God has placed within us the Spirit of adoption where we can call Him Dad.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15 NKJV)
Abba is a term of endearment. In the English language we would say it like this, “Papa,” or “Daddy.”
Paul is saying that through belief in Jesus Christ we are no longer slaves to this world; rather we are sons and daughters of God, and thus heirs of heaven. Now, that is the best Christmas present of all.
One day all who believe in Jesus will be going home for the holidays. Not our earthly home, but our heavenly home especially prepared for us.
“I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV)
And so may Christmas bring you that forever peace as you believe in Jesus, that He came and died and rose again so that you can have eternal peace, joy, and life.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study