New Year’s Eve—December 31, 2014
Luke 2:21; Galatians 3:23–29; Galatians 4:4–5
“Fulness of Time”
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
The Lord has his time. We have ours. We have our times: our months, days, and years. They’re all a gift from the Lord, given throughout creation and on day 4. The Lord’s time is the Lord’s time. He’s gonna do things His way, in His time. There’s no being “late, late, late for a very important date” with the Lord. We’re late. Our schedules full. We may remember the wrong time, day, or forget it all together. The Lord “is never late, nor is He early. He arrives precisely when He means to.” “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law, that we would receive sonship.” It’s not just that the Lord’s alarm went off and it was time to be born, but it’s that all of time is filled up in that moment. It’s the hinge and focal point of all history. That moment affects all time and eternity, even your time and eternity.
(2. Christ endures the old disciplinarian, the Law, for you.)
Time is filled up when the Son was sent by the Father to redeem you from the Law. He redeems us from it because the Law isn’t as friendly towards us as we like to suppose. The Law isn’t just a guardian. Guardian sounds nice, doesn’t it? No, the Law’s our παιδαγωγὸς, our pedagogue, our teacher. The Law’s the disciplinarian who puts us in detention for what we’ve done and haven’t done. The Law beats us up—ancient teachers were completely free to use corporal punishment. We know the Law beats us up. Consider our New Year’s Resolutions. We set them in stone, don’t we? But in the next few months, weeks, days, maybe hours they’ll all fall away and be nothing but a memory. Frustrating, somewhat depressing, isn’t it? The Law is like God’s eternal resolutions for you, and if you don’t complete them, there’s no better luck next year but a worse fate than eternal detention, as Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” A debt that can’t be repaid.
So time is filled up. The Son comes. “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son,” “and when the eight days were filled up, He was circumcised; they called His name Jesus, the one given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” This is what that angel said, “You will call His name” יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, Joshua, Jesus, YHWH is salvation “because He will save His people from their sins.” He saves us because we may give ourselves a pass when we break our resolutions, our commitments, our promises and bribes to do better, but the only pass God gives if all is kept from not from cradle to grave but conception to grave. So, Christ is circumcised. He sheds His blood. He’s put under the Law. He endures it when He didn’t have to. God’s greater than His Law, but He becomes lower than it, under it and is circumcised. He bleeds at eight days old, and He bleeds again some thirty years later as He hangs on a cross—the day of days!—and dies. He endured all the punishment the Law could give, all the wrath the Father had…for you, and it killed Him. So His blood redeems you, buys you back, sets you free from the Law’s detention, from hell and death. Not only by His death but His resurrection too.
(1. By being in Christ, you are justified and free.)
Now, if faith hadn’t come, if Jesus hadn’t come, if time wasn’t filled up, then we would’ve spent all our lives held captive to all sorts of resolutions (ours and God’s), and we would’ve spent all eternity paying an insurmountable debt of broken resolutions. But now we are no longer UNDER something, but we’re IN Someone. We’re not under guardian or disciplinarian Law anymore, but we’re IN Christ Jesus. This is how it is by faith because it’s not just that “faith has come,” that Jesus has come, but faith comes to you, Jesus comes to you. We’ve been brought to Christ, and “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” We’re placed into Christ, Christ comes to us, “in order that we might be justified by faith,” as Paul says. This all happens at the Baptismal font: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Whenever you hear Paul talk about being in Christ, He means baptized. For at the Holy Font we put on Christ. There we are placed into Christ. There Christ comes to us. There we are all given sonship, by being placed into the Son, Jesus Christ. There we’re placed into the Living Christ, the one who died and rose, and so our being baptized children of God is our living reality. It never stops being true. It’s even greater than that! For there at the Font we are justified, that is, declared right, made right before God our heavenly Father. That’s what St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” Moreover, the Heavenly Father said the same thing to you as He did to Jesus when He was baptized: “This is My Son, whom I love, in Him I am well pleased.”
Now we are free, in Christ. As we stand before God, our heavenly Father’s throne we’re all equal because we’re all baptized into Christ Jesus. That’s what this verse means, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This can’t be used for anything else except to speak of how we stand before our heavenly Father’s throne as His baptized children. If someone tries to use it for anything else, they’re just plain wrong because it shifts the focus from Jesus baptizing and saving and puts it squarely on us. It’s all about Him because in Him we’re justified and free—free from resolutions because you’re Christ’s, “and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” This New Year’s Eve, we remember that Christ came, in the fulness of time, and was circumcised for us.
THE FULNESS OF TIME HAS COME: YOU’RE IN CHRIST, AND SO YOU’RE FREE FROM THE LAW.
Since you’re free by being baptized into Christ, you’re free to enjoy this night, this New Year, every year; free to enjoy all eternity with Him when there’s no more time to fill up, just the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.
INI + AMEN.