Summary: How and why Jesus became a son of man
December 30, 2001 Galatians 4:4-7
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Today’s text starts out with a very interesting phrase that caught my attention, “when the time had fully come.” It’s the “fully come” that I thought was neat. What does that mean? Fully come? It literally reads “the fullness of time had come.” It’s not just referring to the clock striking midnight - but that all the chips were in place - everything was ready. God was measuring the circumstances, and now he determined that it was time for action.
There are several instances in the Bible where God talks about things coming to “full measure.” For instance, in Genesis 15 God said to Abraham that his descendants would return to Israel, but not for four generations, because “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” The picture I see here is God holding a big bowl of sins - waiting for the bowl to get full before he brings the Israelites back. And the same goes with time. How often, for instance, did things happen in “40’s”? For forty days Jesus was tempted in the desert, it rained for 40 days and nights, the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years - the list goes on. It’s as if God is in heaven, counting up the time, the circumstances - and designing exactly what he wants to happen. Today’s text presents one of those instances, where everything was set in place for God to act - so today we’ll see how -
The Fullness of Time Has Come
Today’s text is fitting for the Christmas season because Paul is talking about the coming of Christ. The fullness of time had come for God to send His Son. Why was this so? Notice that Paul connects the coming of Christ with the fulfillment of the law. And so when we look at the context of this passage we can understand better what kind of “fullness” Paul is talking about.
Therefore, let’s go through a short 101 course study of the book of Galatians. Paul had to explain to these Christians what the purpose of the law was, because some of them were being told that if they wanted to go to heaven they had to be circumcised like they were in the Old Testament. So Paul explained to them when and why God gave them the law. The Law was introduced 430 years after God had given the promise of the Savior as a “paidagogos”. A paidagogos was the slave who accompanied a schoolboy to make sure that he didn’t get into trouble on the way to school and that he actually got there. As the Israelites lived, they began straying further and further away from God, so God sent the law through Moses, as a “big brother” type to look over the Israelites - to keep them in line. The law kept on condemning the Israelites, so they would look forward to a Savior. The law kept the Israelites separate, so they could have the Savior through their race. The law kept the Israelites from going too far astray from God. God ultimately wanted Israelite believers to be living in Israel so the Savior could be born through them.
The history of the Israelites shows that they went through a lot. The law did it’s job. When the Israelites broke the law, they went into captivity. They were punished. But finally after two different captivities under the Assyrians and the Babylonians, a remnant was left to survive under foreign rule in the land of Israel. It wasn’t exactly they way it should have been or could have been from a physical standpoint, but nonetheless, in God’s eyes, the time was right. It was time to send His Son.
How would God send His Son? He wouldn’t just provide His Son with a fully grown human body from scratch, as he made Adam from dirt. No, first of all Paul says that God’s Son would be born of a woman. Notice he doesn’t say born of a woman and a man, but just born of a woman. This is the same as saying, born of a “virgin” then, because no man is mentioned. Of all the ways to come into the world - think about how difficult this kind of coming would be! Some people travel to different countries by packing themselves in baggage and trying to fly free of charge. But to sit in a woman’s womb for nine months? Wow.