Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The word of the day is “sent.” On this glorious day, we hear Paul’s concise summary of the gospel in our reading of Galatians 4:4-7. He writes, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons” (vs. 4-5).
How long did it take for the time to be filled up with hours, days and years and decades (Strong’s #4136, 204)? How much suffering did the Chosen People endure as the centuries heaped up one on top of the others? How much perseverance did it take for the People to maintain their hope in God’s promise?
God So Loved That He Sent His Son
But now, history has no more room. The time that God had allocated before He would act had expired. Now the Almighty God loved the world so much that He “sent forth” His Son (vs. 4). Note that the two persons of the Holy Trinity are distinct. The Father “sent” the Son, the Son “was sent” by God, the Father. Together with the Holy Spirit, they are one in essence. Yet each has His own identity.
Moreover, the Greek word that Paul uses adds the understanding that the Father sent forth His Son on a mission. The Lord is totally committed to carrying out the tasks for which He came to earth. He said, “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me that the Father has sent me (vs. John 5:36). The Lord is one in being (“consubstantial”) with the Father and the Holy Spirit in his divine nature. He is one in the obedience of His will in his human nature. Thus, the Lord said, “ I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent me (John 5:30).
The Son of God Put Himself Under the Law
His birth of a woman of the Chosen People put the Son of God under the law. From his circumcision (Luke 2:21), dedication in the temple (Luke 2:22-24), obedience to his parents (Luke 2:51), to is His baptism, and throughout his earthly life, He willingly “fulfilled all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) of the law of Moses. In summary, “though He was a Son, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
Yet being “under the law” was more than having to meet the obligations of the law of Moses. The Jews were under the explicit law of Moses. But there is an implicit law that pertains to the Gentiles. The Orthodox Study Bible calls it the “natural law.” It “has been ‘written’ by God on the heart of every human who has ever lived.” “It is the voice of conscience”(OSB “The Basis of God’s Judgement,”15250. (Romans 2:15). By it, God will judge the Gentiles who do not know the law of Moses (Romans 2:16). Therefore, the Gentiles are not exempt from God’s judgment.
He Fulfilled the Law For Us
By His perfect obedience to the will of God, Christ fulfilled the righteous demands of both the Mosaic and the “natural law.” He has fully met our duties to our Creator for us, obligations that had put humankind under the judgment of God. By the fall of Adam, the whole human race became subject to death and prone to sin (OSB fn. on 5:19). But Christ has undone what Adam did. Thus, Paul says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
Therefore, by His birth of a woman, Christ came to free us from our bondage to the law and the judgment of God according to the law. At best, the law was a kind of tutor that kept us in line because of the fear of God’s wrath. Accordingly, even though we were created as God’s children, we were no more than slaves (4:1). But now that Christ has come to fulfill the law for us, we have the blessing of being adopted as sons of God (Galatians 4:7).
God sent His Son into the world to be one of us. But by faith in Him, we become one with Him. Once under the curse of the law, our human nature is now restored to its freedom. In the Greek text, the word translated “freedom” means “exemption from liability (Strong’s #1659, 85). No longer subject to God’s judgment, we are free to worship and serve Him with the love which children have for their parents.
We have every reason to be joyful today. In God’s mercy for humankind, He has “sent forth” His Son to us. In Him, heaven and earth are joined, and our human nature is now restored to the image of God. However, the blessing of His presence among us is only the beginning of the grace that He has come to bring. Thus, today in our study of Hebrews 4:1-6, we not only hear who the child born of a Virgin is but what He came to do. Our reading encourages us to consider what He has accomplished for us in His obedience to God the Father.
May your meditation on His coming lead you into further insights into the meaning of His birth. And may He fill your heart with the joy and peace of His presence.
Christ is born. Glorify Him!