Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Passage

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5). This passage doesn't typically spring to mind when we think of Christmas, but I think it captures the essence of what we're celebrating.

But when the fullness of time had come...
The timing of Christ's birth was not random or arbitrary. It occurred at a very important time with respect to Old Testament history, especially as it pertained to the law and Christ's roles of Prophet (Acts 3:19-26), Priest (Hebrews 6:20), and King (Matthew 26:64).

The timing was also important for the spreading of the gospel. The Roman Empire had brought general unity and stability to the known world. Greek was the lingua franca of the empire, meaning it was used and recognized throughout many different countries and cultures, much like English is today.

...God sent forth his Son...
The fact that Jesus was sent tells us that he came with a purpose. His birth was a meaningful, deliberate act.

...born of woman...
It was prophesied that Christ would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He was the very Word of God made flesh (John 1:14).

...born under the law...
He was born under the law because he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). He lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and showed us how we might fulfill the law through love (Romans 13:8-10). redeem those who were under the law...
The law convicts us of sin, and once we understand that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), we realize that to be under the law is to be cursed (Galatians 3:10). "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us -- for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13). that we might receive adoption as sons.
It is only because we have been freed from the curse that we can be adopted into God's family. The righteousness imputed to us as believers is not due to our own works but the work of Christ (Romans 4:5-8). Because of his sacrifice, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us (Romans 8:2-4).

May God bless you and yours this holiday season, and may we all remember why Christ came in the first place. Merry Christmas!

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