In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
–1 John 4:10
If you have ever taken a journalism class, you know that in the opening paragraph of a story, you are supposed to answer six key questions: who, what, when, how, where, and why. Paul did even better than a single paragraph. In a single sentence in Galatians 4, he answered all six of those questions about Christmas, the coming of Christ into the world.
First of all, who is the subject of Christmas? Galatians 4:4 says, “When the fullness of time came, God.” God is the subject of Christmas. He is the one who initiated all of the events that led to the coming of Christ. In fact, God is the one who initiates everything that happens in the world in general, and in your world specifically. That would be a menacing thought if God were some sadistic ogre looking to hurt us. But every action God takes is motivated by His love for us. Look at 1 John 4:10: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God is the initiator of everything that happens, and He was the first cause of the events that led to the coming of Christ.
Second, what is it that God did? Paul said, “God sent forth His Son.” Too often at Christmas we focus on the infancy of Jesus, and that leads us down a wrong path, obscuring the real meaning of Christmas. We get this warm, fuzzy feeling inside when we think about a baby being born. Then we think about our own children being born, and pretty soon we have devolved into this syrupy sentimentality that has nothing to do with the real message of Christmas. The fact is, there was nothing unique about a baby being born in Israel that night. But this baby was different. He was God in the flesh. Because of that, He alone was capable of taking away our sin. That is what made His birth different than any other.
When did it happen? Paul said Christ came in the “fullness of time.” The plan of salvation was not an afterthought. God did not look down at humanity and say, “Look at the way those human beings have screwed things up–I better do something quick.” Ephesians 1:4 tells us that the plan of salvation was actually established “before the foundation of the world.” God is never in a hurry to do anything, and He is never late. Everything that happens in the world and in your life is just at the right time. That is something you can bank on. In 2 Chronicles 32, word came to King Hezekiah that the Assyrians were going to invade Jerusalem. Hezekiah cried out to God, and God basically told him, “Do not worry about it. I am going to slay all of the Assyrians.” So Hezekiah delivered that word of promised victory to the Israelites, and verse 8 says that the people “relied on” the word of God. They believed what God said. We can rest upon God’s promise to do exactly what He has promised to do at just the right time.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Simply Christmas” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org