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By  Melissa McLaughlin

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.  Galatians 4:4-5

New life.  New hope.  New birth.

I remember the touch of our children’s soft faces against mine when they were just infants.  Gentle cheeks of velvet, silken arms reaching for me, a tiny finger closing around mine with newborn strength.  Tender as downy angel wings, fresh with new life, fragile with delicate grace, bright as the color of spring.  The recollection alone of their sweet little bodies nestled in my lap brings a lingering warmth to my heart.

As the years pass, we reminisce about times past when we, too, were younger, filled with energy, pulsing with vitality, eagerly anticipating new adventures unfolding before us.  All too soon, these realities are replaced with a new reality.  Aging bodies, worn spirits, weary hearts, wary minds, aching souls.

Certainly God’s people, the Israelites, faced this same ebbing away of life, as they awaited their Messiah year after year after year.

From the time of the last Old Testament prophet Malachi’s final utterance in God’s Word until the birth of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament gospels, they waited.  Some four hundred years they waited as life chipped away. They faced captivity by enemy peoples, back-breaking work rebuilding their sacred homeland and bone-wearying oppression.

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.  Galatians 4:4-5

When we are in a place of waiting, even when it feels like we’ve spent 400 years watching the second-hand of God’s clock, waiting for Him to make His heavenly move, may we remember this most wonderful gift of Christmas, the gift of God’s own Son who brings new life, new hope and new birth.

Let us take heart then, for God’s story of redemption, captured in the pages of the Bible, is strewn with miraculous new life from beginning to end.

Let us pause and marvel as God’s plan begins with the creation of all new life in Genesis 1.  As the account of humankind begins here, the world is fresh and unspoiled, teeming with young life.

God’s creation and recreation moves on like a swift river.  Following a devastating flood in Genesis 8, God carries new life through one family, the heartbeat of a dove and the verdant twig of a budding olive tree in the Biblical story of Noah.

All too soon, God steps into the lives of Abraham and Sarah creating miraculous new life in a depleted body and a worn out womb as recorded in Genesis 18.  Imagine their steady, unbroken, unfaltering faith as they observed their son, Isaac, growing little by little, one miraculous day after another, knowing they laid no claim whatsoever on his existence.  A living breathing, walking, talking daily confirmation of new life, new hope, new birth at the hand of the Lord God Almighty alone.

A few generations later, despite a life-threatening famine when almost all hope was lost, the Israelites were provided a second chance at life when Joseph used his place of high rank to provide God’s people with a new home in Egypt, offering sustenance of life through new provisions and food in this amazing account in Genesis 46.

After being enslaved by the Egyptians, God unleashed a quick glimpse of His unending creative power through Moses, who performed miracles by God’s hand forging new paths through impenetrable seas, releasing new food from heaven above and spewing new water from solid rock.  The new life at every turn in these chapters of Exodus points to One who revels in the act of creating.  New life, new hope, new birth.

As the timeline of God’s divine birthing continues, we learn of God supplying a widow with new flour, new oil and even new life to her dead son through the Prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17.  These accounts of God bringing forth something out of nothing are repeated again and again through the Old Testament and lead right up to the moment of Jesus’ birth.  Clearly these chronicles speak of a God who is a passionate Creator and Provider!

As we move on toward the birth of Jesus as told in the New Testament book of Luke, the miraculous birth of Jesus is intricately interwoven with the miraculous birth of another, his cousin, John the Baptist.

Once again, we find an elderly couple, past the age of child-bearing years as the chosen parents.  The priest, Zechariah, and his wife, Elizabeth, are privileged to partake in God’s offering of new life as Elizabeth gives birth to their son, John, as foretold by the angel Gabriel.

In each of these instances and countless more, God worked through limited, incomplete, imperfect humans who stood in the ashes of impossibly dead situations to produce new life, new hope and new birth.

As we peer with tired eyes at our feeble hands, weak knees, scarred hearts and hardened spirits, may we invite the Creator of all, to create in us again new life, new hope and new birth.  Let His nail-scarred hands wrap around yours.  Brush your face against His thorn-pierced brow.  Lean in close against His sword-slashed side.  Let the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, speak to you of the truth of new life He has already won for you as He stared death and destruction head on and defeated evil forever.  Though we cannot redeem the time we have lost, the sorrows we have felt, the tears we have shed, He can.  And He stands with the arms of eternal life reaching for you, inviting you to be reborn into His heavenly family where despite your decaying form, your brittle heart and your broken soul, not far up ahead awaits new life, new hope, new birth.  For unto us a Savior is born.

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.  Galatians 4:4-5

 

Additional Resources

Map of Israel at the Time of Jesus Christ – Conforming to Jesus Ministry

Dr. Tony Evans – The Perspective of Christmas

Daily Life in the Time of Jesus – Bible.org

From Jesus to Christ at PBS.org