The key verse in Pastor Roy King’s lesson on why Christ came in last Sunday’s adult Sunday School class at Windsor Pentecostal Church was Galatians 4:4-5. In this second Christmas post I’m going to share a few thoughts from the 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. (ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)
When the fullness of time had come. The first Christmas occurred in the “fullness of time.” The moment had come which God had ordained from the beginning and foretold by the prophets for the Redeemer to come. And the world was ready for his coming—a peace under the rule of Rome, linked by Roman roads and Greek language, and spiritually bankrupt and hungry.
God sent forth his Son. When the time came to redeem humanity, God “sent forth” His Son. Although the phrase could refer to God’s commissioning Jesus to his ministry, Paul probably had in mind Jesus’s pre-existence. At Christmas we rightly celebrate the birth of Jesus, but we should also remember that the one who was “born” was the eternal Son of God as well a baby in a manger.
Born of woman. When God sent forth His Son, he was “born of woman.” Although possible, it is unlikely that Paul was referring to Jesus’s being born of a virgin. His concern was to emphasize Jesus’s identity with us as humans rather than his difference from us in conception. Also, elsewhere in Scripture (Job 14:1; Matthew 11:11/Luke 7:28) the phrase is used to stress a person’s humanity. The Son of God became one of us in order to redeem us and to make us also sons of God.
Born under the law. God sent forth His Son not only as a man but also “under the law.” By being born of a Jewish mother, Jesus was born a Jew subject to the regulations of Mosaic law. He fulfilled its requirements in his life (“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17) and then in his death voluntarily bore the curse which others had incurred for failing to fulfil it (“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13).
To redeem those who were under the law. The purpose of the Son’s being made under the law was “to redeem those who were under the law.” Jesus achieved this purpose by fulfilling the law’s requirements in life and bearing its curse in death. By doing so, he ransomed the Jews from slavery to the law and all from being “enslaved to the elementary principles of the world” (verse 3). Whatever Paul meant by “elementary principles of the world,” being free from them involves being free from the law of Moses.
So that we might receive adoption as sons. Those whom the Son has redeemed from under the law have also received “adoption as sons.” The next two verses indicate that this sonship involves being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (“because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts”), having an intimate relationship with God (“crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”; compare verses 1-3), no longer being subject to the law (“So you are no longer a slave, but a son”) and having a heavenly inheritance (“and if a son, then an heir through God”). Wow, what a Christmas gift!
Pastor King closed his lesson with this Discipleship in Action statement:
At Christmas people have an opportunity to see how God’s perfect timing guided the events that lead to the birth of Jesus. We should rejoice in the fact that we can trust God is also at work to guide the course of our lives.
Each of us has to make a decision about how we will respond to Jesus. Do you believe in Him as Redeemer and yield you life to Him as your Ruler? If the answer is yes, then you will receive the blessings of salvation, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the privilege of being an heir of God.
(Thanks to Gospel Publishing House of Springfield, Missouri, publisher of the Radiant Life material which Pastor King’s lesson is part of.)
This article is adapted from one which appeared under the title “God Sent Forth His Son” in the Christmas 1999 issue of “The Hunter Family Holiday Newsletter.”