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The Message of the Manger

Scripture: Galatians 4:1-7

I. Introduction: Christmas is becoming increasingly secular and less spiritual. We underestimate the importance of knowing why we celebrate the holiday.

Galatians 4:4-5 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” This is the reason for Christmas—that God provided for our redemption and made us part of His family.

II. The Preparation

A. The Beginning: Understanding the significance of Christmas starts in the Garden of Eden, when humankind fell and sin entered the world (Gen. 3). It was here that the Lord began to reveal His plan for our salvation (Gen. 3:15).

B. The Story of Israel:

1. God chose to establish His plan through a faithful man named Abraham and his family (Gen. 12).

2. Through Moses, He provided the written Law so the people could lead holy lives that were pleasing to Him (Ex. 20).

3. Unfortunately, Israel refused to listen. Though they had periods of obedience, their history was fraught with wars caused by their unfaithfulness to God (Judges 21:25). Eventually, the nation split in two, with the northern tribes keeping the name Israel and the southern tribes taking the name Judah. Though the prophets tirelessly warned of God’s increasing judgment upon their disobedience, the people persisted in idolatry.

4. Eventually, both Israel and Judah were defeated by their enemies and scattered among the nations. The Assyrians attacked and destroyed the northern tribes in 722 B.C., and the Babylonians overthrew Jerusalem around 585 B.C.

5. For 70 years, the people of Judah endured captivity, but their time in Babylon was not a waste. The Jews renewed their commitment to God, and the people were no longer tempted to commit idolatry. Because they were so far from the holy temple, they formed study centers known as synagogues wherever a Jewish community existed. Also, the Hebrew Bible—which we refer to as the Old Testament—was established and preserved. In time, the Persians defeated the Babylonians and sent the Jews back to Jerusalem.

6. The rise of the Greek and Roman empires facilitated spreading the gospel. Alexander the Great conscripted soldiers from the nations he conquered—they learned his dialect and culture, and Greek was soon the language of commerce, medicine, and philosophy in the known world. During this time period, a team of 70 Jewish scholars completed a work known as the Septuagint, which the Hebrew canon translated into koine, or common Greek. Later, the Romans swept through the Greek empire, establishing a general peace and paving the roads, making travel easier than it had ever been before.

III. The Divine Mission

A. The Setting of Our Lord’s Birth: When Jesus was born in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4), there was a common language, an international network of paved roads, and synagogues from which evangelists could preach the good news throughout the known world. It all related to this single, awesome event—the birth of the Savior. Our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God worked through all of the events of history to fulfill His promise of salvation.

B. The Gift of the Messiah: Christ is both fully God and fully man (Phil. 2:5-11). Since Jesus was born of a virgin, He didn’t inherit humanity’s sin nature, which comes through the father. And by keeping the whole of the Law given on Mount Sinai, the Lord proved Himself to be perfectly sinless (Rom. 5).

1. Jesus came to redeem us by dying on the cross to pay for our sin. Through His sacrifice, we have been made holy and blameless before God (Eph. 1:3-8).

2. Jesus came to adopt us into His family and show us that we are loved and accepted; Through Christ, we have relationship with the Father and the eternal inheritance of heaven (Rom. 8:12-17; John 14:2-3).

IV. Conclusion: Christmas represents the spiritual turning point of history. It begins the most important series of events the world has ever known—the incarnation of God Himself, Jesus’ death on the cross, and His resurrection. It also reminds believers of their future hope: the Lord’s second coming.

The Lord promised He would return one day and establish His earthly kingdom. He fulfilled the prophesied details of His first coming in astounding literal ways, and He will do the same when He comes again in glory. Now is the time to acknowledge Him as Savior and to celebrate all He has done. Give Jesus your whole heart this Christmas. Thank Him for the gifts of His incarnation, eternal life, and adoption into His family.

(Charles F. Stanley. Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.)