When we think of the Christmas holiday, we think of family. This is appropriate because God, first and foremost, is a Father who has a Son He has loved from eternity. Moreover, His eternal purpose was to have many sons and daughters who have free access to Him as He has put all things in heaven and earth under Christ (Eph.1:4-10; 3:11-12). Therefore, the real significance of Christ’s birth is our adoption into the family life of God.
This post is pretty much a reiteration of everything I talk about here, but if we don’t get this, we miss the ultimate reason for Christmas. Or, as Dickens put it in “A Christmas Carol”: This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”
Notice how Paul describes the glorious Advent in Galatians:
3 So it is with us. When we were juveniles we were enslaved under the hostile spirits of the world. 4 But when that era came to an end and the time of fulfillment had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the written law. 5 Yet all of this was so that he would redeem and set free all those held hostage to the written law so that we would receive our freedom and a full legal adoption as his children.
6 And so that we would know for sure that we are his true children, God released the Spirit of Sonship into our hearts—moving us to cry out intimately, “My Father! You’re our true Father!”
7 Now we’re no longer living like slaves under the law, but we enjoy being God’s very own sons and daughters! And because we’re his, we can access everything our Father has—for we are heirs of God through Jesus, the Messiah! (Gal.4:3-7 TPT*)
The first thing we see is that humankind had to grow up before Christ could come: “When we were juveniles….” We see this trajectory in the Old Testament; God progressively bringing humankind out of its pagan worship by taking a people, Israel, and adding the written Law in order to keep them as a testimony until the coming of Christ (see Gal.3:19-25).
By the way, Gentiles were never under the Law at any time. Of course, we weren’t part of God’s covenant either. But we should remember this point when talking about what significance the Law has under the New Covenant. Christ certainly didn’t come to “set free all those held hostage to the written law” in order to bring us under it!
But I digress…
Second, Jesus came to free us from “hostile spirits of the world,” which Paul also refers to as the “god of this age.” Tragically, these spirits continues to blind people whose hearts are not open to the truth (2 Cor.4:4. See my post, “Light and the Darkness.”)
Third, when the time had finally come, God sent His Son, born of a woman. Why say this when everyone is born of a woman? This is meant to signify that Jesus had no earthly father. He’s the only begotten Son of God, for His father is God Himself. Of course, the eternal Christ was with God from the beginning, and is God (John 1:1-2).
This makes Jesus uniquely qualified to be the progenitor of all God’s sons and daughters who share in His life and inheritance. For, as Athanasius pointed out in the fourth century, if Jesus isn’t in the Trinitarian life of God Himself, we cannot partake in His life either.
This brings up the fourth point, which is that God’s ultimate purpose was to adopt us as His children.
“God released the Spirit of Sonship into our hearts—moving us to cry out intimately, “My Father! You’re our true Father!”
God is no longer some distant deity we try to appease through primitive pagan worship, hiding behind the fig leaves of religion. He is our Father. We’re no longer orphans, He has made His home in us (John 14:18, 23).
Now, in one sense, all humankind are God’s children, as Paul reminded the pagan Athenians: “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:28). But that isn’t what’s being said here, which brings us to the fifth and final point.
“And because we’re his, we can access everything our Father has—for we are heirs of God through Jesus, the Messiah!
We access this life by opening our hearts to receive Christ’s life by faith and by entering into an ongoing, cooperative relationship with Him via His indwelling Spirit.
The implications here are simply mind-boggling. Because of Christ, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas day, we who believe now have access to everything God has. Jesus Himself said it this way:
15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:15 NIV*)
Beloved, this is the ultimate meaning of Christmas. Christ came to show what God is really like (not according to our religious imaginations, based in fear and separation), and free us from bondage in order to become His children who walk in intimate union with God as “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet.1:4), which means that all the Father has is ours!
We now have full access to Christ’s light and life, which is the ultimate reality, and from which we can bring His never-ending joy to the world!