Based on: Galatians 4:4-7
Have you ever bought a gift for someone that you are particularly proud of? Have you ever experienced one of those times when you knew exactly what would be the perfect gift for that special person? You planned very carefully how you would get that gift and wrap it and get it into the house so that they would not know. Then you couldn’t wait to give it to that person. It brought you pleasure to give that gift, because you put a lot of effort into that gift. You thought about what kind of gift to give and you planned just how to give it. This morning we look at the preparations God made to give his gift and we also look at the wonderful gift he gave.
The opening words of our second lesson for today tells us that God had planned this gift. Paul writes, "When the time had fully come." God was waiting for just the right moment to present his gift. But he wasn’t just waiting. He was working throughout history to make sure that those through whom the savior would one day come into the world remained safe. From Adam to Noah he made sure that the gospel message was transmitted from generation to generation. From Noah to Abraham to King David and finally to the time of Mary and Joseph, God caused some nations to rise and become world powers while other nations faded away. Powerful leaders took control of vast empires, thinking that it was by their own power that they came to that position, but all the while God was orchestrating world events so that the time would one day fully come for him to present his gift to the world.
As the time came closer, world powers would struggle against each other and yet little Judah, the place the savior would come from, remained a distinct group of people. Even closer to the time for that gift for to come – God raised up Alexander the Great to conquer a large portion of the then known world and to force upon those places that he conquered a common Greek language and culture.
Then Alexander the Great died young, but God used that in his plan. After Alexander’s death his empire was weakened by all the internal struggles caused by people hungry for power. Eventually Alexander’s vast empire was conquered by the Roman Empire. God used the Roman Empire as part of his plan. The Roman Empire built roads that went all over the Empire and with an iron hand crushed anyone who caused trouble in the empire so that those roads were safe to travel.
Also in the land of Judah, God had withheld his prophets from Judah for 400 years. So now when it was time for God to bring his gift – wrapped in the womb of the virgin Mary – into the world, the world was ready to hear it. They were hungry and thirsty for God’s word. With safe Roman roads on which to travel and a common culture and language with which to communicate, news of this gift to the world was able to spread quickly and to faraway places as the apostles and other believers took that message of Jesus Christ with them as they traveled.
But that is not all. There is tremendous comfort in seeing God’s hand work throughout history to accomplish his plan. His plan is not finished. He still works through world events so that the gospel message about his son will be carried to you and to me and many others. Just as he carefully planned bringing his son into the world, you can be sure that he will not let that be for nothing, but he will also watch over you and protect you and the whole Christian Church on earth. As a Christian you can be sure that no matter what happens in this world, whether it’s the war in Iraq, or political unrest in Africa, or the elections right here in the United States, God’s plan and to bring you to heaven will not fail.
Now let’s focus more on this gift God has given us. This gift is God’s son, “born of a woman, born under law.” What does that mean to be born under the law? Well, you and I, as human beings, are born under the law.
First, let’s look at a law where it is easy to see how we are subject to a law. Look at the law of gravity. The law of gravity cannot be broken. You must obey it. In fact there are consequences if you try to ignore this law. (Now I know that birds and airplanes seem to defy the law of gravity, but in fact there are other laws at work there and gravity is still pulling on them.) As I said there are consequences for ignoring the law of gravity. If you try to jump from a platform thinking that you’re just going to float in the middle of the air, you will, not surprisingly, fall to the ground. That is the consequences of trying to ignore the law of gravity.
Not only are we, as human beings, subject to the law of gravity, but we are subject to God’s law concerning the way we think, what we say and what we do. We find a summary of that in the 10 Commandments. Now we talk about breaking the fourth commandment or breaking the fifth commandment, or whatever commandment, and we understand what we’re trying to say, but in a way God’s commands cannot be broken. God’s law stands firm no matter what we say or do.
Sometimes we try to ignore those commands. It happens when people try to ignore the sixth commandment and live with their boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage. It happens when people try to ignore the third commandment and they rarely come to church and they make very little effort to hear what God has to say to them in his word. There are consequences for ignoring God’s law. Perhaps some of those consequences will come while we are still alive on this earth. Most definitely there are eternal consequences for ignoring God’s law. The consequences are hell itself. We have all at various times and in various ways ignored God’s law and deserve this consequence.
That is why Christ, God’s gift to us, was born under the law. As God’s son, he was not subject to those laws. He was not subject to gravity. He created gravity. He was not subject to the 10 Commandments because, as God, he is the standard of what is good and right. No, he had to become a human being so that he could be subject to those laws in our place. His whole life here on earth he did not ignore a single one of God’s laws.
The truly amazing thing is that his perfect life of obedience to God’s laws is a gift to us. Paul tells the Galatian Christians that Jesus was “born under law to redeem those under law."
That word “redeem” means to buy back. God has purchased you through that act of Jesus Christ becoming a human being and living under the law and suffering on the cross in your place, suffering the punishment of hell on that cross as if he were the one who ignored every single one of God’s laws.
As a result we have "the full rights of sons.” As a result we belong to God and God calls us sons. What does that mean for us? First of all it means that we can call God, "our Father." The one who works throughout history and coordinates world events to accomplish his plan tells us to call him "father." And think, if he considers us children then he, as our perfect Father, will use his power to give us what is absolutely best for us.
Because we are sons of God, God tells us we are also heirs. As heirs of God, the wealth of God is ours. The whole universe is ours and while it may not seem so as long as we live on this earth, it is ours because God uses it for our eternal good. He uses it to bless us. What is more, we will receive an even greater inheritance when we die. We will enjoy the blessings of God forever.
God carefully planned this gift that he has given us and continues to give to us. There is no better gift that anyone has ever given at any time. God gave us his Son so that we could become his sons.