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Christ, Born of a Woman, Born under the Law - First Sunday after Christmas

[Galatians 4:1-7] I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Christ, Born of a Woman, Born Under the Law

Jesus was born of a woman, born under the Law – so that you may live by grace.

The Apostle Paul says in our Scripture reading today, “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is not different from a slave… He is under guardians and managers.”

You and I, by nature, as fallen men and women, as gentile sinners, are not children but slaves – under the burden and curse of the Law. But Jesus, who alone is by nature a son, became as a slave to make us sons.

What does it mean to be under the Law? What Law? Isn’t God’s Law good?

God’s Law is good, but we are not. The goodness of God’s Law is actually a curse to fallen man – just as the goodness of civil law is a curse to the burglar.

To be under the Law, therefore, means for us to be under the curse. Under the curse by which Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise, forbidden from the tree of life – the curse of death – severed from communion with God.

By the fall into sin, we are slaves in the household, not children. Jesus said, “the slave doesn’t remain in the house forever” [John 8:35]. God is a taskmaster, a slavedriver, to fallen slave-man. We therefore resist Him by nature. Yet, we are bound – we have no choice but to toil under His Law.

A slave who doesn’t serve well under His master’s Law dies a slave’s death. And a slave who does serve well also dies a slave. Man’s nature has an ingrained awareness of God’s Law, and we men and women even become puffed-up, prideful in ourselves when we come to believe we’ve kept the Law well.

Yet, even if we had served as well as we think, we still die a slave’s death. No paradise. No tree of life. We, according to the nature we are born with, are not really part of the family – “the slave doesn’t remain in the house forever.” Man doesn’t need to do better and better in his own eyes. Man needs a change of status – to be reborn even – to become, no longer slaves, but children of the household.

Becoming employee of the month – or slave of the year – is done by works. You earn it. But to become children is not earned. None of you became children by your works. It happens by an act of another.

And, indeed, another has acted. Who acted? What did he do? Jesus acted. What did He do? Jesus who is the Son in the household by nature took on the nature of a slave and died a slave’s death on the cross. Born of a woman, born under the Law.

A son, in his maturity, needs no Law. A son by nature becomes like his father and desires to please his father. The Son of God needs no Law. He is like the Father by nature. Yet, Jesus, the Son, placed Himself under the rules that the slaves live under. He became ‘under the Law’.

‘Under the Law’, He outdid all the other slaves. He alone truly became righteous and kept the Law without stain. He fulfilled the whole slave-service due to be rendered.

Yet, in His obedience, He obeyed unto death [Philippians 2:5-8]. He died a slave’s death. He, though He was without sin, was severed from paradise – was cut off from the tree of life – and was nailed to the tree of the cross.

When the Son of the household – the Father’s only Son – was nailed to the tree, all the slaves were nailed to the tree with Him. Somehow, because He had become their head-slave, because He had done all His service in their stead – somehow, in the mystery of God’s counsel, His death was counted as theirs.

Scripture says this to be so. “We have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” [2 Corinthians 5:14]. And Scripture says this – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” [Galatians 3:13]. And Scripture says this: “For our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21].

The Son of God became what we are so that we might become what He is. This is how the depth of the mystery of the counsel of God works. He took on the form of a slave so that we take on the status of a son. As Jesus said, “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” [John 8:35-36]. Or as our Scripture reading today says, “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… So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Jesus has acted and your status has changed. You are no longer slaves dying the death of slaves under the burden of the Law. Yet, now, what do you do as children? Are you people of the Law? Are children of God to be a people of sin? Heaven forbid!

No and no. You are neither slaves under the Law of God, nor are you a people who live without the Law of God. You are neither slaves nor are you lawless criminals. You are sons, daughters. As a son or daughter, you have your Father in you. You are becoming like Him because you are His offspring. You even have the Spirit of the Son in you, the Holy Spirit, who cries out, “Abba! Father!”

No longer under the Law to die under the Law. Now the very One who gives that good Law of God – the Lord and Giver-of-Life – dwells in you. The Son who alone fulfilled the Law of God now lives in you – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” [Galatians 2:20]. You are no longer pressed under the Law, but now the Law of God is alive, moving in you.

Because you’ve been made a son with Jesus, seek to live as a son. Put away your old self. Live according to the sonship (or daughter-ship) you now have. Seek to mature and to become more like the One who is now your Father. Not under compulsion, but growing as children do grow.

Born of woman. Born under the Law. It is Christmas still. We celebrate the manger where Jesus was born what we are that we might be reborn as He is. And be sure of this, that God, who has begun this good work in us, will also bring it to completion on the day of Christ [Philippians 1:6]. Amen.

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