Sunday after Christmas
January 1, 2006
The Fullness of Time
But when the fullness of
the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under
the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive
the adoption as sons. And
become you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his son into your
hearts, crying out, ďAbba, Father!Ē
Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then
an heir of God through Christ.
The law that God gave to Moses
was the best law anyone ever gave to anyone.
Nobody has been able to improve on it.
Even those who donít know Moses or the Ten Commandments will
often put together standards of conduct that imitate the standard that
God set down for Moses and the children of Israel.
There can be no improvement on perfection.
There can only be imitation.
Of course, the imitation is never as good as the original.
God gave this law plenty of
time. He gave the law to Moses about 1400 BC. For fourteen hundred years Godís people were subject to the
Law of Moses. They never
did obey it, not even one of them.
The law curbed violence. It
taught virtue. It trained
the people in a devout way of life. Not once, however, did the Law of
Moses give life. Rather, it
dealt out death.
Years came and went.
Children were born, they grew up and had children of their own,
they grew old, and they died. They
all died. The law saw to
that. The law killed them.
Everyone who dies dies because the law says so.
God said to Adam, ďOf every tree of the garden you may freely
eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not
eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.Ē (Genesis
2:16-17) When Adam and his
children die, they die because the law of God requires it.
You may not disobey God and live.
The law condemns you to death for your disobedience.
This is how we must understand
time. Listen to Moses, to
whom God gave the law, describe the passage of time.
He writes in Psalm 90:
A year comes and goes.
A century, a millennium, and time flies by. What does it take in its wake?
Death! Your mother,
your father, your sister, your brother, you, and me.
We die. We all die.
And so the law of God has its final word.
Time proves that the law of God is not just idle words.
Time deals out death, and death is the exclamation point of
Godís law. Look at it and
see for yourself that God is not fooling when he tells us how we must
live. As the hymnist says:
like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away;
The sons of time are the sons of
Adam. They are the sons of
disobedience. They have not
loved God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind.
They have not loved their neighbors and themselves.
They have bowed down before idols made in their own minds.
They have used Godís name to cover up their own sin.
They have despised Godís instruction.
They have dishonored their parents.
They have fought and hurt and killed.
They have broken the marriage vow.
They have taken what belonged to others without fair payment.
They have lied about their neighbors.
They havenít been satisfied with what God gives, but have
insisted on more and more. And
they die. Every one of them dies.
They die because they deserve to die.
Time bears them away.
Their graves are forgotten.
Their memory disappears. Even
among the most famous of them, truth and fiction are blended together
into myth and nobody really knows who or what they were, except for one
undeniable fact. They are
dead. They sinned against
Godís law. Thatís what
As we watch time flow by and our
lives with it, we stop to look at what happened in the fullness of time.
God sent forth His Son. It
was not just at the right time, but it was in the fullness of time.
The time was right, no doubt.
Jesus was born at the perfect time for the advance of the
Christian faith throughout the world. The Christian gospel took deep root in an Empire that was
soon to expire, and with its death the Church of Jesus Christ would be
extended throughout the world. So
it was most certainly the right time.
And it was the time that the prophets had foretold.
God directed the affairs of men for the purpose of making his
promise come true.
But St. Paul calls it the
fullness of time because it is in Jesus that all time has been
fulfilled. Jesus was born
of a woman, as all of us were. But His birth did not place Him under any law.
He is the Son of God! He
is over the law. But He
chose to place Himself under the law.
He did this so that He would redeem those who were under the law
and to make them sons of God.
Jesus is the Son of God because
he is begotten of the Father from eternity.
Christians are sons of God by adoption, and it is only through
Jesus that we are adopted as Godís sons because Jesus has redeemed us.
Jesus is not the Son of God because of anything that has
happened. He did not become
Godís Son in time. He is
ďbegotten of the Father before all worlds.Ē
Christians are sons of God because of what has happened.
And what happened?
The lawgiver placed Himself under the law that He had given.
The law that dealt out only death would now stand in judgment of
the Prince of Life. And so
it did. Godís holy and
immutable law of love examined this manís heart, soul, strength, and
mind. The law could not
find anything in His heart that was not pure.
The law could not find anything in His soul that was not devoted
entirely to the service of God. The
law could not find Jesus ever weakening in resolve to do everything the
law demanded. Even when He
sweat drops of blood as He faced the agony of abandonment on the cross
by his dear, eternal Father, Jesus prayed that the Fatherís will be
done, even the will that requires that He, the innocent, suffer as if He
And so He did.
He suffered. He who
was born without any taint of original sin and who never gave in to sin
and so could not be condemned by the law to die nevertheless was
condemned by the law to die. The
law struck Him down and killed Him.
His obedience for our
disobedience. His life of
love for our lives of sin. His
innocent death for our guilty deaths.
He redeemed us. He
took our place. He purchased us back from the grave. As surely as time passes by like an ever-rolling stream so we
are headed for death. But
in the fullness of time Jesus came and stopped it.
He stopped time in its tracks.
Now, consider, dear Christian,
your sins or this past year. Consider
all your regrets. What
promises did you break? What
bad habits took hold of you again and again? As
you are a year closer to the grave, what have you done that makes you
fear the grave as the dreaded punishment God requires of every sinner?
Now look at your death, looming
even larger, coming even closer, and see where it has gone.
It was taken away by Jesus.
Yes, your death is no more.
The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law.
Now look at Him who was born of a virgin, placed Himself under
the law, and obeyed it. Look
at His holy life. And when
the law points you to the grave, you tell the law that he has met his
match in Jesus. When the
law tells you that God is angry with you, you tell the law to accuse
Jesus. That the law cannot
do. When your own
conscience makes you afraid Ė afraid of God and afraid of death Ė
you silence your accusing conscience with the words of the Holy Spirit.
He tells you that you are a dear child of God.
He tells you that the life Jesus lived he lived for you and the
death Jesus died he died for you. This
is the voice of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of truth who cannot
tell a lie.
This is the Spirit who proceeds
from the Father and the Son. He
teaches us to cry out, Abba, Father!
Only the Spirit of Jesus can give us this confidence, because it
is only by the obedience of the only begotten Son that we are adopted as
And we are.
We are sons of God. He
calls us sons. Not only may
we call God ďFatherĒ, but we may also claim all the treasures of the
household. Male, female, young, old, rich, poor, life long Christian or
recent convert, great theologian or simple child, all Christians are
sons of God and share the same treasure.
That treasure is life.
Let time roll on by and take all
of its sons away. When he
comes to take us, we wonít be taken, because we have already been
taken by Jesus. Let time
march on and bring to destruction all the children of men.
We are the sons of God. Our
Lord Jesus has met the demands of Godís law.
He has borne for us the pains of death.
His innocence met our sin on Calvary and blotted it out.
Now the passage of time is sanctified for us.
We can remember the Christian loved one with the joyful assurance
that God has set a time for our reunion in heaven.
There will be no death there.
What we have today by faith will be ours there by sight.
Who can imagine the joy we will feel?
We will have a greater joy than any child ever felt at Christmas.
For we will be filled with the treasures of Godís love in
Christ forever and ever. Then
time will give way to eternity.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus