Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE HEAVEN-SENT SON (Galatians Chapter 4)

Galatians 4:5, “But when the fullness of time had come, 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 the adoption as sons.”

We have here in this verse a wonderful explanation of the cause and effect of Christ’s incarnation.  The immediate context of Galatians 4:4 has to do with the deliverance of the “enslaved” (Galatians 4:3, 8).  This deliverance was availed by God’s intervention through the redemptive ministry of His Son. 

God sent forth his Son when the “fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4).  Theologically speaking, it happened according to the exact timing of the One who works “all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).  Biblically speaking, in a careful orchestration of divinely timed events numerous prophecies met their exact fulfillment in Jesus’ birth, life, and death (i.e. the timing and location of Christ’s birth; the arrival of His messenger; His flight to Egypt; etc.)  Historically speaking Christ’s coming took place in an advantageous period of time in which there was a well-established road system (constructed by the Romans) and the widespread usage of one language (Greek).  These and other factors worked to facilitate the rapid spread of the gospel across the Roman Empire.  Morally speaking, it was a time of great need.  Henry Scougal once commented about this: “God hath long contended with a stubborn world, and thrown down many a blessing upon them; and when all his other gifts could not prevail, he at last made a gift of himself.”

In the fullness of time “God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4).  The rebelled against and much offended God of the universe sent forth His Son.  The God who is seldom thanked and commonly accused sent forth His Son.  What kind of love is this that God would send His dearly beloved Son to such a place?  Romans 5:8 explains, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The truth of the incarnation is set forth—“his Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).  Both His deity and His humanity are affirmed here.  It is a matter of “transcendent truth”, as Martin Luther once said, “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”  Both are true and necessary aspects of His personhood.  That He is the divine Son of God is affirmed here and elsewhere (Cf. John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-16).  He is human, having been born of a woman (Cf. Galatians 4:4).  Doctrinally speaking, this truth regarding the “God-man” nature of Christ is of great importance (Cf. 1 John 4:2).  But it is important for another reason as well inasmuch as it speaks to the truth of who God is.  Does God care?  In sending forth His Son He initiated the greatest of all missionary endeavors.  How far was God willing to go to rescue lost sinners?  The incarnation answers these questions (Cf. 1 John 3:16; John 3:16; Hebrews 2:14-15).

St. Augustine, an early Church father, once commented on these matters in a Christmas sermon: “The Word of the Father, by whom all time was created, was made flesh and was born in time for us.  He, without whose divine permission no day completes its course, wished to have one day for his human birth.  In the bosom of His Father He existed before the cycles of the ages; born of an earthly mother, He entered upon the course of years this day.  The Maker of man became man, that He, Ruler of the stars, might be nourished at the breast; that He, the Bread of life, might be hungry; that He, the Fountain of life, might thirst; that He, the Light, might sleep; that He, the Way, might be wearied on the journey; that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge; that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips; that He, the Foundation, might be suspended on a cross; that Courage might be weakened; that Security might be wounded; that Life might die.  To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us, unworthy creatures, He who existed as the Son of God before all the ages, without a beginning, deigned to become the Son of Man in these recent years.  He did this although He who submitted to such great evils for our sake had done no evil, and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, had done nothing to merit these benefits.”

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