Christmas Eve

Preached: December 24, 2011

Why Is He Here?
Galatians 4:4, 5

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word from God for us to ponder tonight is Galatians 4:4, 5

When the time had fully come, God sent out his son, born from a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, in order that we may receive sonship. (Galatians 4:4, 5).

This is the word of our Lord.

Why are you here tonight? Are you here because your parents made you come? Are you here because it’s family tradition, just like Christmas cookies and presents? Are you here because little children look so darling dressed in their customs or because you just enjoy singing Christmas songs? Why are you here?

As you think about that, there’s a bigger question. Why is He here -- this Baby in a manger? For unlike us, who had no choice in our birth, he chose to come and be born and laid in a manger where animals would feed. Why did he choose to leave his heavenly throne and come to this earth as a lowly baby? Why is he here?

Think about God’s promises. “When the time had fully come,” Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 4:4. Throughout the ages from the beginning, the Lord God had filled up the time with his promises. He promised to send the Savior to rescue sinners from death and damnation. No one made him make the promise. He freely chose to according to his good will. He made these promises, and now in the fullness of the time, when it was just right -- when the time had fully come -- he sent his Son. He fulfilled his promises. He kept them all. For he is faithful. He is the Lord. Because of his good will, the Father sent out the Son. The Son came because of his good will, that is, his grace, his mercy, his love that reaches out even for unlovable sinners like you and me. Such good will! That’s one answer to that question of why is he here. Listen tonight as the angel proclaim God’s good will that sent his Son to be here with us.

Why is he here? The Apostle gives another answer: “to redeem those under law” (Galatians 4:5). That’s the mission the Father sent Jesus to do. Who are those under law? That’s you and me. We are accountable to God's Law. Even our conscience testifies to that. But we have broken God's Law. Every twinge of guilt makes that clear. And what does God’s Law say to lawbreakers like us? It says, “You are cursed. You are condemned. You are sentenced to the unending prison of hell and the ceaseless torture of its hopelessness. There shall be no peace for you.”

But God sent his Son to redeem you from the curse of the Law. That’s why this baby is here. Jesus was born of a woman and born under law to take your place. Although he is God over all, yet he took our flesh and blood and humbled himself to obey the law as our Substitute. For he too was born of a woman and born under law, just like you and me. Since he is your Substitute, his sinless life covers your sinful record. Since he is your Substitute, his death on the cross cursed by God counts as the full punishment for all of your sins. He has paid the price to ransom you. He has redeemed you from the curse of the law. He has set you from from its condemnation and released you from its death sentence. He brings you the peace the Law denies you. He brings you peace with God through the forgiveness of your sins -- the peace the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that night. This is why he is here.

Don’t lose out on what Jesus gained for you at such great cost to himself. Hold on to his promise in faith. Simply knowing that Jesus did this, isn’t faith. Even Satan knows what Jesus did. Rather faith trusts that Jesus did this for you. He redeemed you, dear friend. He redeemed you to be adopted into God’s family, to receive the full rights as sons and daughters of the Almighty. The Father gave his Son for you, so that you as children of God may take your cares and worries, your hopes and fears, your joys and sorrows to him, like a dear child going to his or her dear father. And the Son gave himself to redeem you. When faith grasps this good news, we in turn want to give ourselves to him and live as holy children of our heavenly Father.

And that’s the answer to the other question we asked. Why are you here tonight? I pray that your answer is: To keep giving myself to Jesus as I honor and serve him tonight and always. For he gave himself for me. That's why he was here. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313