Summary: God promised Abraham that he would have thousands of descendants. Abraham and Sarah showed a lack of faith when they launched the Hagar Solution.
The term “who’s your daddy?” has become a part of our cultural vernacular. My golf buddy, Dean Cagle, yells it every time he makes a long putt, which is more often than I like. In fact, the guys who know Dean know him by that phrase. So, a couple of years ago when I officiated at the wedding of Catherine, Dean and Brenda’s daughter, we pulled a little joke on Dean. I knew Dean would be emotional, and sure enough, when he walked her down the aisle he was blubbering like most of us who have given our daughters away in marriage. Catherine was sniffing, and I was on the verge too. So instead of saying, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man, I said, ‘Catherine, I have one question for you. ‘Who’s your daddy?’” She said, “Deano’s my daddy!” It got a good laugh and everyone breathed a little easier and we were able to complete that beautiful wedding ceremony without crying like babies.
One of my top five sports movies is “Remember the Titans” where Denzel Washington plays a high school football coach. When they leave for camp one of the white players starts giving him orders. Denzel gets in his face and asks, “Once we get on that bus there’s only one daddy on this team, now answer me this, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ Say it, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ the player finally says, ‘You are.’” Great movie!
Our passage today talks about two mothers, so I’m changing that question, “Who’s your daddy?” to “Who’s your Mama?” But I’m not talking about your birth mama; I’m talking about your spiritual mama. You know I like humor and you might think I’m about to tell some “your mama” jokes. You know, they all start, “Your mama is so fat … your mama is so dumb … your mama is so ugly.” As much as I love humor, I’m not going to go there, because they are really more of “mama insults” than “mama jokes.” So out of love and respect of mothers everywhere, there won’t be any “your mama” jokes. But if I WAS going to tell a “your mama” joke, I’d say, “Your mama is ... so wonderful that she brought you into this world.” And that’s no joke.
We are in a section in Galatians where Paul pleads with the Christians to resist the false teachers who had infiltrated the churches. These Jewish teachers demanded the Gentiles had to become good Jews before they could become Christians. Sure Jesus died on the cross for their sins; but that wasn’t enough. If they wanted to make sure they went to heaven they had to be circumcised, obey the Sabbath rules, refrain from eating non-kosher foods…and the list went on ad naseum.
Since these Jewish teachers were proud of being “sons of Abraham,” Paul uses part of his letter to take a sarcastic poke at their pride. He reminds them that Abraham had two wives, Sarah and Hagar, the Egyptian slave. And he had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. Paul really digs the needle in by saying that by forcing Christians back into the bondage of legalism, these teachers were proving Hagar was their mama, not Sarah. And spiritually speaking, we all need to answer the question, “Who’s your mama?”
Galatians 4:21-31. “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman [Hagar] and the other by the free woman [Sarah]. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai [the law] and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: ‘Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.’ Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? ‘Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.’ Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”