Songs of Hope and Joy
We can sing songs of hope and joy because we have been adopted into the family of God. Christmas is the “how” of this adoption. In the fullness of time Christ was born of woman under the law, making it possible for us to be adopted as sons and daughters.
We’ve been in passages that don’t really feel like Christmas passages for the past couple weeks and today will be no different. Please make your way to Galatians 4. We slowly shifted from Gospel of John by focusing on key words of advent the last two Sundays.
The themes of Advent
On the first Sunday of December we looked at the resurrection and the meaning of PEACE. Last week we looked at Jesus’ commission to Peter to feed God’s people and we looked at the meaning of LOVE. The plan was to talk about JOY today and HOPE next week, but I kept finding myself talking about HOPE and JOY, so we are going to look at HOPE and JOY this week and next, just because I feel they’re so tightly linked.
Christmas is only 10 days away! On Christmas as you are waking up to open gifts with the family, I’ll be going through airport security. As has been our tradition for the last several years, we will celebrate Christmas Eve with you here at our Candle Light worship service and then we’ll fly to VA Beach on Christmas Day to spend some time with my family there.
Customer or Son
On that trip I’ll have to verify my identity several times. At the ticket counter they’ll ask for my ID and they’ll look up my reservation to confirm I’ve paid. They’ll then weigh my luggage and they’ll charge me for the luggage based on it’s weight. I’ll then take my ticket to security where a federalized agent will look at my ticket and my ID under a specialized tool to ensure that it isn’t a forgery. Then we’ll proceed to the gate where when it’s time to board the gate agent will request my ticket to make sure I’m on the right flight and I’ve paid for my seat on the plane.
However, when we arrive in Norfolk Airport my Dad and Mom will be there and they’ll greet us with hug. I won’t need to show any ID. They won’t need me to prove I’m supposed to be there. I won’t need to pay, in fact when we drive away from the airport my dad will refuse to let me pay the fee for the parking garage. The difference of course is that to my parents, I’m family. I’m not a customer or a passenger or a citizen, I’m their son.
Servant or Sons
In Galatians 4 Paul is making the point to these believers who live in the rural mountainous region that they don’t need to prove themselves- they don’t need to pay for their place, they don’t need to earn their spot on the team.
Let’s read Galatians 4:3-9
The Gospel plus Tradition
Paul had preached the gospel to these people and they had believed and experienced forgiveness of their sin, a new purpose in life, a new hope in the future, and the joy that comes with walking with Jesus. However, someone had told the Galatians that it was good that they had decided to believe in Jesus but if they wanted to really experience God’s goodness they needed to add to their faith OT rules, OT laws, Jewish traditions, and Jewish holidays.
They were being told they need to show credentials to truly belong to the family of God. Paul’s point to the Galatians was that those were instruments of slavery. Those were instruments to keep them in bondage, much like the sin and idolatry they had turned from. Paul tells them they need not prove they belong to the family, because they’ve been adopted as sons.
They are not servants, slaves, customers, passengers, or clients. They are sons and daughters. Here’s where we get to Christmas. Christmas is the how of our adoption!
Christmas is the HOW of our adoption.
Earlier when I was speaking of the route we’ll take on Christmas Day, it may have surprised you to hear me say that we’ll stop in Atlanta, because rebased on your understanding of US geography, Atalanta is not on the way to VA Beach.
You’re right, it isn’t on the way. However, airlines operate on hub and spoke systems.
Probably there will only be a handful of people who want to get from Nashville to Norfolk on Christmas Day, so instead of flying one plane from Nashville to Norfolk, they’ll fly a whole bunch of planes from all over the US to Atalanta, the hub.
Then they’ll fly those same planes back to those places all over the US.
People from Nashville, Nebraska, Nantucket, and New Deli who wanted to go to VA Beach will all board a plane to VA Beach in Atalanta. You see, the planes flying that day won’t be about me. They’ll be about hundreds of thousands of people.
“The fullness of time”
Paul says, when the fullness of time had come. God doesn’t tell us all of the pieces of the puzzle that He was working to put together before the birth of Christ, but there were a whole host of elements that we can’t even begin to fathom that he was pulling together.
In His infinite wisdom He decided that this night, in Bethlehem, was the very best night to bring Jesus into the world. There would be numerous times that the Jews would have wondered where the Messiah God had promised was at… There were times they were enslaved. They were in bondage. Multiple times they were attacked, persecuted, and abused and they must have wondered if God was still out there.
400 years of silence
There was even a time of 400 years that God was silent. No prophets. No message from Heaven. Just 400 years of waiting. You realize our Nation is less than 250 years old? Generations came and went waiting, wondering…
Yet, the Bible tells us the people still had joy because their joy was based upon HOPE. They still sang the song of the Psalms, songs that spoke of the coming day of redemption and rescue.
Pessimist. – sees the worst.
Optimist. – sees the best.
Hopeful. – hopes in spite of what they see.
Joy. – happy in spite of what they see.
Paul is saying, God sent His son at exactly the right moment. Then He sent His son, made of a woman.
Made of Woman
Jesus was born a baby. The incarnate God, with the flesh and fashion of a man. The miracle of Christmas is that in the manger, there is God in the flesh. God came to be among us, as one of us!
When the angel appeared to the shepherds, he said, behold! Unto you is BORN this day…
In the beautiful, powerful miracle of life that is birth, God comes to be among us, and this points back to the moment in the garden when God tells Eve that she will endure great pain in childbirth- but in that same moment says that he is sending a son of woman who will be born to crush the head of the serpent.
So God has been born, made of woman.
Made under the law
Now, Paul’s whole point to the Galatians is that they do not need to be under the law because Jesus came, but when Jesus came, He came under the law and He obeyed the law. He was the perfect Jew.
Born into the right family.
A Jew of the right ancestry on both sides of the family, belonging to David’s line generations and generations ago. He was obedient to the law. Attended the festival. Kept the holy days.
Where everyone else had failed, he succeeded. Jesus arrives with all of his paperwork in order. He has all of the identifying marks of the Messiah which have been prophesied of for generations… He has done this so that we might be adopted into the family of God.
The details of our adoption into God’s family
This past week I served on a committee that’s writing a handbook for the boards of our denomination. One of my fellow committee men is Danny Williams and he was telling me that his daughter and son-in-law just adopted a baby.
When they went to hospital when the baby was born, they had all of their paperwork prepared, all of their fees had been paid, they were all set, but there was a hold up in their home state of getting the paperwork finalized. I can’t imagine the patience this must take.
It is truly a tragedy of our time that an abortion is cheap and convenient and an adoption is a expensive and exasperating.
The laws and rules that Jesus submitted to were not few. However, He took all of these steps to show His credentials. To prove His identity.
Jesus proved His identity.
We feel low key offended when we are asked to prove our identity. It’s a nuisance. Jesus took all of these steps to reach out across the heavens and through time, to welcome us in an embrace. To welcome us as sons and daughters. To adopt us into the family.
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