Christmas 2 -- God Gives Sonship to Those Born in Slavery

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“God Gives Sonship to Those Born in Slavery”
Heaven’s Greatest Gift Sets Us Free From Death and Sin
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!
Today is the 9th Day of Christmas.
Today is also the 2nd Sunday after Christmas, which does not happen very often; whether or not we observe the 2nd Sunday after Christmas all depends on what day of the week Christmas day falls in relation to Epiphany, which is always January 6. For example, next year Christmas Day falls on Sunday, which means the First Sunday after Christmas is January 1st (8th day of Christmas) — which means Epiphany will be that Friday.
My point with all this trivia is to make the case that today is really a special day because we get to hear Scripture readings that are normally not read on Sundays, because they are appointed for the Second Sunday after Christmas.
So what is so special about today? The readings today answers important questions that need to be answered about any gift — particularly the one God gave at Christmas. We have already heard the answer to the questions, “What it it?” from Christmas Day and “What does it Do” from last Sunday. Christmas Eve we answered the question that God’s gift at Christmas is for you, and your name was written on the gift-tag. But today we get to see what effect this gift has on those who receive it.
The effect is this fact — God’s Christmas gift is for slaves.
It is for people who are held captive by the enemies of death and sin.
It is for people who have no power of their own to free themselves from those enemies.
It is for people whose only hope is to patiently and quietly wait for God to act.
It is for people who depend on God to set them free.
God’s Christmas gift is for slaves, but the gift doesn’t leave them that way, it sets them free. As the fulfillment of all of God’s promises.
Jesus came to set us free from our enemies. He came to those who were slaves, to make them sons and daughters. And set free, we have full rights of sonship. He makes us heirs of a glorious inheritance. He sets us free from a forced slavery to our enemies—fear of death and sin—and replaces it with a free service to our loving Father in heaven.
Those who wait for God are never disappointed. What we have not power to accomplish, God accomplishes through Jesus.

God’s People Waited

Waiting seem to be what God’s people do — Like Abram
In Genesis 15, Abram was about 75 years old when God promised that he would be the father of nations. God took him outside and told him to count the stars in the sky—if that were possible— telling him that this this would be the number of his descendants.
God entered into a covenant with Abram to seal the deal; and a covenant always involved the shedding of blood.
About 11-years past and Abram and his wife Sarai still do not have children. Abram is now around 86 and Sarai about 76. Perhaps Sarai is too old and God wants to use another woman to give birth to the child of the promise, so Sarai comes up with this bright idea that Abram should bed Haggar, her servant. She gets pregnant and gives birth to Ishmael, but God tells Abram that Ishmael is not the child of promise.
13 years goes by and Sarai and Abram still have no children of their own. He is now around 99 years old and Sarai is pushing 90. Imagine their struggle as they waited for God to keep His promise. They were both well past child-bearing years. It’s looking pretty bleak.
But then God comes to Abram again, changes his name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah, as a sign that he will be the father of many nations. God then reveals the child’s name—Isaac— and tells Abraham that “this time next year Sarah will give birth.”
At long last, God is going to act. This became the basis of God’s command to serve him faithfully and blamelessly. As with Zechariah — from Gospel reading — this produced a response in Abraham, in that he broke out laughing for joy and surprise.
Waiting is what Zechariah and Elizabeth endured as well.
Zechariah was a priest.
He and Elizabeth were unable to have children, and now they up in years.
The Angel Gabriel pays a visit to Zechariah one day when he was on duty as a priest, and announces that his wife Elizabeth will have a son, and his name is to be John (the Baptist). Due to their old age, Zechariah didn’t believe the Angel Gabriel. Due to his lack of faith, Zechariah had to wait once again, this time being unable to speak, until his son is born.
When Zechariah’s tour of duty as a Priest had concluded he went home unable to speak, but then Elizabeth conceived. Nine months later Elizabeth gave birth to her son.
Some good came from the waiting, because after his son was born he was able to speak again. Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, which enabled him to announce that a much more important wait is about to be over. This announcement came in the form of a song that he sang, which happens to be our Gospel reading today.
The birth of his son, John the Baptist, signaled that God would at long last keep His promise that he made to His people a couple thousand years before, going back to Abraham. What else could Zechariah do, but sing. And he had every reason to sing, because God is redeeming His people. He is raising up a horn of salvation. For centuries God’s people had been waiting for him to act, but now God is finally acting.
As a Priest, Zechariah understood the effect of this action from God. For those who lived in captivity to their enemies would finally be set free. They would be rescued and redeemed. As a result, they would now be free to live in service to God. It would not be by force, as in the case of their service to sin and death. No!, It would be offered without fear, in holiness and righteousness.
This is the ultimate outcome of the long-awaited action God took at Christmas. Though Jesus, He frees the slaves and gives them sonship. He purchases a people as his very own, with Jesus’ very own blood.
Hallelujah! all and believe and baptize have been set free from our enemies of Death and Sin.
And though we have been set free from death and sin, we still live in this sin-infested world until Christ comes to take us home. So, like Abraham and Zechariah before us, we have to learn to wait for God to act.
And that is the problem,

We Don’t Like to Wait

For example, when you’re at the grocery store and they are very busy and you’re ready to pay for your products, which line to you look to get into? Do you usually pick a line because it is the shortest?
Living in a microwave society.
We want what we want and we want it now!
We live in this world where the curse of sin still remains. Though we have been set free from slavery to death and sin, we still get sick as do our loved ones. We have to go through it—because we live in this world—yet, we are waiting for God to act to bring us into to our new home that Jesus is preparing for us. There we will finally be free, body and soul.
In the meantime the world is still held in its slavery. The world has everything to fear, especially in death. They do not have the same inheritance to look forward to as we have. Their’s is an eternity of suffering, torment, and pain.
It’s no wonder that they are afraid to die, and the pandemic of the last two years and brought this fear front and center.
Living in fear of death.
And unfortunately, many Christians fear death too.
If anything good can come from this pandemic, perhaps this is it.
Baptized Christians have absolutely nothing to fear with their death, or that of their loved ones, because we have already died and got it out of the way. Now what we have in front of us is life everlasting!
And we have God’s promise:
Abram forgot God’s promise and took matters into his own hands, and bad things happened as a result; they always do.
Zechariah did not believe the Angel Gabriel’s announcement, so he lived as a mute for nine months until his son was born.
God promised you and me that everyone who believes and is baptized into Christ Jesus have already has died, has been reborn, and will live eternally.
People of God, you ALREADY DIED, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Which means the baptized believer has already died and got that out of the way. What we have before us is nothing but eternal life and peace with God through Christ.
This being the case, why are so many professed Christians living today in fear of death?
Do they not realized what Christ Jesus has done for them?
Are they like Zechariah were they refuse to believe what God has promised?
What’s happening is the devil is trying his best to shackle us once again with fear, in order for us to live under his control, rather than living for Christ.
St. Peter has already told us that “the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for those he can devour.”
And what a devouring tactic — cause those who have already died to fear death. This will shackle them back into servitude, and steal their freedom to live for Christ.
Christian, heaven’s Christmas gift has set you free from this fear to death and sin, which means that

Our Waiting is Over

In Christ your status has already changed. You have gone from slave to heir.
Our Epistle reading from Galatians reveals that Christ came into this world to redeem us.
That means, His death and resurrection has purchased you from the old taskmaster of death and sin, and transferred your status to that of an heir of God.
Which means, Jesus is now your older brother and you share in His inheritance.
You are now a son and daughter of God.
In the most intimate of ways, you are now enabled to refer to God our heavenly Father as “Daddy.” — Abba Father.
Verse 7 tells us— “You are no longer a slave, but a son.”
Death did not hold Jesus — Remember, He rose again! Likewise, you and me.
Therefore, the Christian does not die, they fall asleep, awaiting Jesus to awaken them at the resurrection.
To illustrate — John 11:11 “He [Jesus] . . . told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.’” — Likewise you and me.
Galatians 3:26–29 (EHV)
26 In fact, you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 Indeed, as many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. . . . 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants and heirs according to the promise.
Jesus came to set us free from our enemies. He came to those who were slaves, to make them sons and daughters. And set free, you now have full rights of sonship. He has made you an heirs of a glorious inheritance. He sets you free from a forced slavery to our enemies—fear of death and sin—and has replaced it with a free service to our loving Father in heaven.
In holy Baptism you have been clothed with Christ Jesus in his death and in his resurrection. This means that His death is your death; His resurrection is your resurrection. The taskmaster of death and sin no longer have any power over you. They do not define you, because God has already changed your status to that of Child of God.
In Christ, your wait is over.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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