God Sent Forth His Son (Sat. Dec. 25)
The word of the day is “sent.” In our reading of Galatians 4:4-7, we hear Paul’s concise summary of the gospel on this glorious day. 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, 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 other? How much perseverance did it take for God’s People to maintain their hope in His promise?
God So Loved That He Sent His Son
But now we rejoice in the gospel. The time is fulfilled. The years of waiting are over. God’s promise is coming true. Now we hear the wonderous news that the Almighty God loved the world so much that He “sent forth” His Son (vs. 4).
Note that in this message, the two persons of the Holy Trinity are distinct. The Father “sent” the Son, and the Son “was sent” by God, the Father. Together with the Holy Spirit, the Son is one in essence with the Father. Yet each person of the Holy Trinity has His own identity.
Moreover, the Greek word that Paul uses adds the understanding of the reason that the Father sent forth His Son. The Lord Jesus came to earth as an infant child to achieve the intention of the Father. He was totally committed to carrying out the reason 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. Therefore, in both His divine and human natures, He is one in will and purpose to the Father. 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
Our reading says that the Lord Jesus Christ was “born of a woman, born under the law” (vs. 4). Accordingly, the Son of God was duty-bound to keep the law. From his circumcision (Luke 2:21), dedication in the temple (Luke 2:22-24), and obedience to his parents (Luke 2:51), to His baptism–indeed throughout his earthly life–He willingly fulfilled “all righteousness” of the law (Matthew 3:15). In summary, “though He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
But what was that law that the Lord perfectly obeyed? It was more than the law of Moses and the obligations of the Chosen People. It was the law that God has written on the heart of every human who has ever lived. It is the law of conscience. The Orthodox Study Bible calls it the “natural law” (Romans 2:15) (OSB “The Basis of God’s Judgement,”15250). By the law that is explicit in the law of Moses and implicit in the law of conscience, the Almighty God will judge each one of the human race.
Christ Fulfilled the Law for Us
It was this law in both its “Mosaic” and “natural” forms that Christ came to fulfill for us. God created human beings to live forever in complete harmony with Him and perfect obedience to His will. But by the sin of Adam and Eve, the whole human race became subject to death and disobedience. In this state of corruption, all humans were helpless to keep the law. But the Son of God was born to undo what Adam and Eve did. Paul writes, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” (OSB Romans 8:3).
Therefore, by being “born of a woman,” Christ came to free us from our bondage to the law and its judgment. We were created to be God’s children. But because of the disobedience of sin, we were no more than slaves (4:1). But now that Christ has come to obey the law for us, we have been adopted as children of God once again (Galatians 4:7).
In summary, God sent His Son into the world to meet the requirements of the law for us. Therefore, since the law has been fulfilled, we are no longer in bondage to it. Our human nature is now restored to its freedom. In the Greek text, the word translated as “freedom” means “exemption from liability (Strong’s #1659, 85). Released from God’s judgment by the perfect obedience of Christ, 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, 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 Galatians 4, we not only hear who the Christ child is but why He came from heaven to earth. 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 to further insights into the meaning of His birth. And may He fill your heart with the joy and peace of His presence now and throughout the coming year.
Christ is born. Glorify Him!