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Advent Devotional 2021 – December 23rd

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we long to know yet more of your boundless love and grace. Beyond the written word we seek the living Word, Jesus. Reveal to us by Your Spirit the glories of Your incarnate Son so that we might more perfectly love and follow Him. Amen

REFLECTION

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 4:4-6

For ages and ages and eons the creation moved through time towards the “fullness” (pleroma) of “time” (chronos). In today’s scripture the apostle Paul writes worshipfully about the filling up of all time: the full fruition of time with the birth of God’s timeless Son. At the precise time in history as determined by the Father and foretold by prophets, “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” Time was filled to its fullness as God put on flesh, stepping into history to usher in the new age of Messiah.

Paul says that God sent His Son “born of a woman” to point to the Incarnation and full humanity of Jesus. Jesus entered this world in the same way as each of us, through hard labor and pain. Jesus did not come as a full grown and mature adult, but as a tiny and helpless baby. By this He bestowed on us the dignity of humanity; He joined with us and was made one with us. “As born of a woman” the Son of God took upon Himself all human experiences, became capable of sharing our pure emotions, wept our tears, partook in our joys, hoped and feared as we do, was subject to change, grew as we grow, and in everything but sin, was a man amongst men. (Alexander Maclaren, Galatians: Expositions of Holy Scripture)

The Son of God had to possess full humanity if He was to be our substitute, our representative, in order to live, die, and rise again for us. No angel could do that. He became fully human and able to represent and redeem all of us. He was God’s Son, and He was Mary’s Son, the one and only Savior. The Bible is careful to say that Jesus was born of a woman, not that He was born of a man and a woman. This fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy, “‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23, quoting Isaiah 7:14).

Paul specifies that Jesus was not only born of a woman, but that He was also “born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law.” From Jesus’ circumcision eight days after His birth (Luke 2:21), His presentation as a babe in the Temple (Luke 2:22), to His observance of Passover just before He died, Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17). Jesus did this to take our place as human beings and to offer up to God perfect obedience, even to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). Jesus perfectly kept God’s Law for us in order to rescue us so that we might “receive adoption as children.” “That, indeed is why the Father sent him, that we who have rejected him might be brought back, not merely as creatures, but as children, to enjoy the abounding love the Son has always known.” (Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith)

As Jesus is God’s Son by nature, so we are by grace: beloved children of God. “But to all who received him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). This means that we can know Jesus’ Father as our Father.

“The Father does not love Jesus with one kind or measure of love, and you and me with a different measure. He loves you in the same way He loves His Son. In His eyes you are cherished and wanted and as acceptable in His presence as His Son. This is what it means to be adopted.”

(John Kingsley Alley, The Spirit of Sonship: An Apostolic Grace)

As Jesus became one flesh with us in order to bring us home to His Father, so with their Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can boldly cry, “Abba! Father!” For the Most High God is now our Father, the eternal Son our Brother, and the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide.

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

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