December 25, 2016
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Galatians 4:4-5
“JESUS: GOD’S GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!”
1. Jesus gives patience.
2. Jesus gives trust.
3. Jesus gives blessings that last.
Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV 1984) “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
This year the Christmas service prepared by our Early Childhood students was titled “The Best Gift of All.” To introduce the service I asked those present what would make something the best gift, what makes some gifts better than others? I ask you that today. Think of gifts you received. What about them makes some better than others? Well one reason might be the joy that a particular gift gives you. As a child I remember going through the Sears and Penney’s Christmas catalog and circling my favorites. I remember the joy when I got what I wanted. Maybe, though, you are more on the pragmatic side. So for you it is when you get a useful gift, something you really need, that tool or kitchen appliance that will make your work easier. This year a snowblower! Socks or underwear usually don’t make that list but I remember a time when they did. When you are a grade school boy going to school at a time when you have to change in the locker room with all the other boys for every gym class and practice and your mom accidently washes your white underwear with a deep maroon fringed bedspread with the result that all your whitey tighties have now turned pink there is great joy in getting some useful new white underwear for Christmas. I guess the best gifts that we receive are the ones that bring joy and are useful. Today I’d like to add one more characteristic for a great gift. It’s one that keeps on giving, that doesn’t wear out, that lasts and keeps providing more and more joy. The only gift that fits is Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, if we ponder Christmas all year long we’ll see that Jesus keeps giving us patience. Paul reminded the Galatians, “But when the time had fully come.” What made the time when Jesus was born the right time? Some people have looked back at history and tried to get into God’s mind and guess a little bit. For instance they note it was a time in history where there was a common language. After Alexander the Great had conquered much of the western world it became cool to be like the Greeks. Greek influence spread and Greek became the common language of commerce. That would make it easier to communicate the good news of great joy that would be for all people. They also note that at that time the Roman Empire was in charge and they built good roads and were ruthless in stamping out crime so there was relative peace and safety for travel. That all may be part of the big picture looking back but the real answer to why it was the right time was God said so. He knew. He knows all things.
He knows all things in your life too. There are some things in life that God puts into our control, some timing issues we are in charge of. If you get an assignment at school like a research paper you are expected to get it done. Deadlines at work are like that too. But there are many things in life that are out of our control. God has reserved control of those things for Himself. Don’t sweat the timing. You don’t have to stress out about what is out of your control like when a job you wanted falls through or someone else buys the house you wanted. You don’t have to get all upset if some of your plans don’t happen because something out of your control stopped it. When the time had fully come, Jesus was sent. God knows for the big things and little things. Remember that about Jesus and get patience. Jesus keeps giving.
The gift of Jesus also keeps giving us trust. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law 5to redeem those under law.” But why? Have any of you ever gotten into one of those discussions with a younger child? The one where no matter how you answer or what you explain they just keep asking why? Did you ever do that with God’s plan of salvation? But why? Why did God do it that way? Why did God’s Son become a man? Why did He have to die? In the few words I just read to you from Galatians 4 we get that glimpse of the glory and wisdom and power of God. He sent His Son. His one and only Son. While there are and have been billions of people there is only one true Son of God. Value. Born of a woman, born under law. That one and only Son of God became also fully truly human. This was no fake, no shell game. Jesus started in the womb and by natural birth saw the world outside the womb for the first time, drew his first breath, ate and grew like every other human being. By so doing Jesus was under law, that means subject to the law, obligated to obey God’s laws for mankind just like every other human being. And to what the Devil thought was his delight able to die like every other human being.
What was God doing here? To the Devil this didn’t make sense. But God’s plan was perfect. He is God and one aspect of being God is that He is just. When He says something, He means it. The guilty get punished. The innocent go free. How could God remain just about the soul that sins shall die and in love spare the people He loves so much? A substitute. Someone would have to be punished to maintain God’s justice. Someone would have to be perfect. In a brilliant exhibition of His love and wisdom God came up with a plan to redeem those under the law. He wrapped His Son in human flesh and lay Him in a manger so that He could live a perfect life as our substitute and then get wrapped in cloths and laid in a tomb after giving his life as our substitute. Brilliant. God knows what He’s doing.
And that’s another way that Jesus is God’s gift that keeps on giving. As we look at what God did with Him we keep getting trust. How will this ever work out? A loved one falls and breaks a hip. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer. The layoff notice comes. Look at Jesus. Learn to trust. See the helpless baby lying in a manger. Do you doubt God’s wisdom? He is so vulnerable. No, He’s part of God’s plan. See He walk to the cross. Watch Him suffer in silence and refuse to come down. Look at Jesus. Learn to trust. God’s plans are perfect and they always work out for the good of those who love Him just as He promised.
Jesus is God’s gift that keeps on giving. He provides blessings that last. Most gifts we receive don’t last. Clothes wear out and don’t fit anymore. I asked the 8th grade students about how long a new video game that just came out and every had to have would hold their attention. Answers ranged from a couple of months to a week. They don’t last. Even if you got that brand new Lexus with the red bow on top, it wouldn’t last. Door dings, corrosion from salt all take their toll. Eventually that new car smell goes away and even the new car air freshener can’t really match it.
In Jesus we receive gifts that last. Paul put it this way: that we might receive the full rights of sons.” To the ears that first heard this people who thought they could never inherit and could never be any more than slaves or third class citizens this was exciting news. Full rights of sons meant protection, legal rights, inheritance. God is pointing out that by giving the gift of Jesus we have blessings that last. We have the right given by God to call him Father, Abba, and to know that he hears and answers our prayers always and only for our good. We have the right to the protection of his guardian angels, ministering spirit sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. We have the inheritance of heaven awaiting us. Heaven where the best this earth has to offer pales. What are gold and diamonds worth in heaven? Who needs a new car or money? Heaven where nothing wears out and our bodies work perfectly and where we enjoy eternity with all be believers around the throne. Heaven where we see Jesus face to face and we won’t have to ask “But why?” because we’ll know.
Our gift giving at Christmas is meant to be a reminder of what God gave us. I hope you receive some things that you need and things that you want. Some things that will give you joy and that joy will last beyond a day or two. But when you are saying or writing your thank yous, remember to thank God for Jesus, His gift that tops them all, His gift of which the others are just pale reminders, His gift that keeps on giving. Amen.