Christmas is here. So what?
I. We have been redeemed.
II. We are children of God.
4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
After today there will not be a whole lot left to Christmas. There may be a few more presents, and a few more family or work gatherings, but the brunt of the Christmas celebration is over. When you figure out how much time you spent in the mall, or on line, or in lines, or at parties, or putting up decorations and lights, it becomes very clear that we put a bunch of time and effort and money into Christmas. So as we come to then end of another Christmas season we may want to ask the question, "So what?" What has it all been about? How are things any different from any other year? So what about Christmas?
We know the answer. It is why we are here this morning. We know what makes Christmas a big deal. We know why we put in the effort and we understand what the celebrating is really all about. But just in case our memory is a little hazy, just in case we were a little busy and distracted the past few weeks, just in case we may be tired of Christmas and asking so what? Just in case, letís look at Godís Word in Galatians 4:4-7 and find some answers to "So what about Christmas? There we are reminded that I. We are redeemed. II. We are children of God.
To redeem means to buy back. We all needed to be bought back. We were all under the slavery of the law. All people are born under the law. That means you have to obey it. For Godís Old Testament people this meant all of the law that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. For us New Testament people the law that we are born under is the law of the Bible for New Testament people, the law of our country and also the law that God has written on our hearts. We know what is right and what it wrong and we know that we are obligated to do what is right and not do what is wrong.
This is not just a tough burden. It doesnít just mean hard work, being under the law is an impossible situation. The Bible says clearly that all people have broken Godís Law. Whether we are a Jew or a Gentile, whether we lived 2000 years ago or we live today. We are all guilty of breaking the law. The primary purpose of Godís law is to show us this truth. Paul wrote in Romans 3:19, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." Every mouth is silenced under the law when we see that we are all cursed with the consequences of our sin. We are held accountable for our sins when we see that we deserve the punishment of eternal death in hell. We need to be redeemed from the curse of the law.
Understanding our own helplessness and the terrifying situation we are in under the law helps to answer the question, So what about Christmas. We have been redeemed. Listen again beginning in verse 4, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law." Our God is the God of history. At the perfect moment in history, he sent his one and only Son into this world. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The eternal Son of God was born as a real person and born under the very law that he had established. Jesus submitted himself to the law that we could never keep.
He did not do this to show us the way we should live, or to give us an example to follow. Jesus put himself under the law to redeem us. Jesus obeyed that Law perfectly. He was tempted in every way that we are yet was without sin. He was as Peter described a lamb without spot or blemish. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice required by God to redeem all people from the curse of sin. Christmas is a big deal because we see the sinless Son of God coming to take the place of every last sinner ever born.
With all the busyness of this season, it can be easy to think, "So what about Christmas?" "I will be glad when it is over." But you are here this morning at this point in time, not by accident, but you are here to be reminded or to hear that you have been redeemed. Christmas is about the beginning of Godís plan to save you. Your Savior bought you back from your bondage to the law and all the guilt that comes from your sins. Your Savior bought you back from the fear of death. Even as a believer there is uncertainty that we may feel as we face death but there is no fear when we remember Jesus died and was punished so we will never be.
And your Savior bought you back from the power of the devil. He did this by facing every last temptation the devil could bring and never once sinned. Jesus defeated the devil by dying a perfect death to pay for all sin. Jesus then went to hell to announce his victory over the devil and all those who rejected him. Jesus then rose on Easter Sunday to prove to the world, and to each of us that we have indeed been redeemed. That is what Christmas and Easter for that matter are all about.
We usually fall into the "So What About Christmas" trap when we just see another busy time of the year, or we just view Christmas as a time to dress up the kids and see the lights. But when we remember that at the perfect time God sent Jesus to redeem us we know what Christmas is all about every year. And we also know that it has lasting results. Because Jesus redeemed us, we are children of God. At the end of verse 5, we hear that we were redeemed so "that we might receive the full rights of sons." This is the big deal about Christmas. We are children of God.
This Christmas and Easter message of Jesus being born and dying and rising from the dead is what God used to work faith in our hearts. By his grace, because of Christmas, and its powerful message of forgiveness in Christ, we have been set apart from slavery to sin and adopted into the family of God. We have the full rights of sons. Using the word son does not indicate a male or female difference or preference, but in the culture of that day the first born son is the one who received all the inheritance. We are all first born sons. Through faith in Jesus we are children of God.
Listen again to the blessings we enjoy as children of God. "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." Christmas is all about our status as sons of God. That is what we are. There is a wonderful little word in verse 6. That word is "are." He does not say you will be, or you might be, or you once were, or you sometimes are. You are sons of God. As we read earlier in John 1, this was not because of a husbandís will, or a human decision, or a natural birth, but we were born of God when he sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to create faith.
No matter how far away we get from Christmas, or how distracted we may get, we have the Spirit of God living in us. Jesus made this promise to his disciples before he left them to ascend back to heaven and it stands for us. He does not leave us alone, but sends the Holy Spirit to us through the Word and the sacraments. Christmas is all about our three in one God planning and accomplishing salvation for the world and for each of us and keeping us focused on his Word even when we are busy.
We have that promised Holy Spirit living in us. This is why we long to approach our Heavenly Father in Prayer. It is why during the busiest time of the year we take time and are drawn to church. As children of God we long to be with our God. And we see Christmas as a wonderful time to do just that. At Christmas we see the lengths that God went to in saving us. This love draws people to it.
Last Sunday evening we had over 250 people at our German Christmas service. They were people who wanted to hear the Christmas Gospel in their own language. There are always people in church on Christmas who may not have been in church for a while. That love of God in sending Jesus is a powerful attraction, even if people come for the wrong reason they still hear the Christmas Gospel. For people who are in church throughout the year there is a longing to be with our God and be reassured of what Christmas is all about. It is not an emotion, or a feeling, it is about our status. We are children of God because of the work of this child born in the manger and we long to hear about him again. So what about Christmas? Because of Jesus we are Godís children and we have an inheritance in heaven.
When I was about 10 my great grandmother died. And she left us an inheritance. It was not much, but I remember my parents using it to buy us a colored television. That was really my only experience with an inheritance. Many people get an inheritance, and some are quite large, but nothing compares with the inheritance we have a result of God sending us Jesus. Because of Jesus the Holy Spirit in our heart and is the deposit that guarantees our inheritance. In 1 Peter 1 that inheritance is described this way, "In his mercy he has given us new birth, into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you." So what about Christmas? You have a gift that lasts forever. One that will never wear out nor will it be taken away, you have the status of Child of God! This is your eternal inheritance.
I can remember family gifts that we would get as children. These were gifts to be shared among the kids. At times the sharing got tough. Then there was the threat that the gift would be taken away if we did not share it. God does not take Christ away from us even though we abuse him. Even though we donít share, and maybe donít even use except in case of emergency, or church holiday we still have an inheritance. That doesnít mean we can do what we want. It means that our ever faithful God moves us to cherish the time we spend with him and our fellow believers. Godís faithfulness answers the question of "So what about Christmas." We are children of God and heirs of heaven. That is what it is all about.
There are people, and the lady across the street from my house is one of them, people who put up their Christmas lights very early. There are also those who leave them up for a long time. Maybe it bothers you one way or another when people get so into Christmas, when stores put out the Christmas stuff right after Halloween. Maybe that type of behavior leads people to say so what. But letís leave Christmas up for a while. Letís do that because we know what it is all about. It means God sent Jesus to redeem us and it means God has adopted us into his family. It is never too early, or too late to know that about Christmas and to celebrate what it is all about. Amen.
Pastor Matt Brown
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (WELS) of Union City, Tennessee, Rooted in the WORD