A Prayer Celebrating the Hard Providence of Jesus’ Birth
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Gal. 4:4-7
Dear Lord Jesus, as I meditate on these words from the Apostle Paul, it occurs to me how the story of your less-than-ideal first birthday gets told in ways that often misses the point; worse than that, in ways that disregard sovereign grace and the glory of the gospel. We judge Jerusalem for missing their moment; we criticize innkeepers for gross inhospitality; and we pity Mary for the birthing room she had to endure. We moralize and sentimentalize, and miss the point.
Yet everything happened that night just as you, our Father, and the Holy Spirit planned. “Doing all things well” didn’t just start happening after your resurrection.
“But when the set time had fully come,” you came—not a day early and not a day late. As humbling as it was to be born under the ceiling of a stable, being born under the weight of the law was a far greater burden.
Yet that’s exactly why you came into the world. From the manger to the cross, you did for us what we could never do for ourselves. The law demands a perfect obedience we cannot possibly offer, and it requires a justice that would have left us eternally condemned.
Because you lived in our place and died in our place, we’re no longer guilty, powerless slaves to sin; rather, we’re beloved daughters and sons of the living God—enjoying the full rights thereof. We’ve been robed in your righteousness and sealed with God’s Spirit, who enables us to cry out, “Abba, Father”.
And, as Paul wrote, our future looks over-the-top amazing as well; for we’ve been made co-heirs with you of the new heaven and new earth. It’s hard to wrap my head, heart and imagination around such love, grace and hope. But it’s true and it’s ours, all because of you, Jesus.
I won’t waste any more time judging innkeepers, but I will rejoice in the God of all grace. Hallelujah what a salvation! Hallelujah what a Savior! So very Amen I pray in your matchless and merciful name.