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St. Mary, Mother of our Lord

Galatians 4:4-7

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Eighth Sunday after Trinity
St. Paul's Lutheran Church  
Wellston, Oklahoma

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 

What is a slave?  A slave must labor and work endlessly without reward.  A slave is obligated to always obey, and may face harsh punishment if he does not do whatever his master commands.  A slave has no rights and no inheritance.

Saint Paul writes that you were under the Law as slaves.  The Law was your master, telling you all the things you had to do.  The commandments were a slave driver, forcing you to obey on threat of punishment.

You were born under the Law, born into slavery.  You could never escape that slavery, nor could you ever complete the Law's demands.  As soon as one task was done, another needed doing.  Nor could you ever finish a job perfectly enough.  No matter how selfless and pure you tried to be, there was something that spoiled your obedience.  The Law was a picky master who was never satisfied.

There is nothing wrong with the Law by itself.  It is from God, and is therefore good.  The commandments of the Law are summarized by love, which is the highest virtue.  So the Law itself is righteous and noble and praiseworthy.

The problem lies in you.  As sinners, you cannot fulfill the Law.  If only you had no sin, the commandments would be no burden, and you would not be slaves.

But as you are, the Law always condemns you and threatens you with ultimate punishment; not merely physical whipping such as an earthly slave might receive, but also the scourging of hell, where you would be tormented forever in chains of darkness.  That is the end of slaves of sin.

Who would ever choose to be such a slave?  In the beginning, one man chose.  Adam threw away the goodness that God had created in him, and smashed the image of God.  In the disobedience of Adam, all mankind was forced to live in slavery, always under the Law and sin and death.

You were conceived and born into that slavery.  You have never had true, spiritual freedom.  You were always slaves.

But a moment came in history when a second Man was able to make a choice.  He was born of a woman named Mary.  By His virgin birth, Jesus was conceived and delivered without sin.  So the Law could not threaten Him.  He did not need to be a slave.

Yet He decided to be born under the Law, even though He did not have to be.  Christ Jesus voluntarily became a slave, obligated to obey the commandments.  He took the full burden of the Law so that He had to obey perfectly, all the time.

Unlike us, He was able to obey.  He performed every task the Law gave Him, down to every last detail.  There were no flaws in His work.  He did nothing half-heartedly or incompletely.  He fulfilled the entire Law, down to the last jot and tittle.

When He had fulfilled every commandment, Jesus chose to be treated as a disobedient slave.  He became the suffering Slave.  He allowed Himself to be punished as you deserve.  He took the whipping of a slave.  He was crucified as a man who had no rights.  He suffered the death and damnation that all rebellious, disobedient slaves should have received.

When He had taken all that the Law could do to punish Him, then Jesus rose up from the grave, fully alive, to show that He was truly the Son of God.  This was the Man who had lowered Himself to the lowest place.  This suffering Slave was the Divine Son of the Almighty Creator of the universe.

Now He has redeemed you.  He has bought you out of the slave house of sin.  He was sold as a slave for thirty pieces of silver.  But He bought you with the infinite price of His precious Blood and suffering and death.  He paid for you and for every slave on the face of the earth.  With His Blood and death, He could have purchased a hundred thousand worlds, full of sinful slaves.

So you are no longer slaves under the Law.  Jesus has fulfilled every requirement.  What punishment can the Law threaten against you?  Jesus has suffered and taken away every penalty the Law could dish out.

Since you are not slaves of sin, what are you?  You are what Jesus is.  You have been adopted as sons of God.  You have the privileges of sons, including full and open access to speak to God.  You address Him as "Father."  He really is your Father, in Christ.  As sinful slaves, it would be blasphemy to call God your Father.  But in Christ His Son, you have this privilege.

Think of that wonderful gift.  The God of the universe is your Father.  The immortal, everlasting, infinitely wise Creator is pleased to call you His beloved children.  Compared to Him, no man is more than a speck of dust.  Yet He delights to name you His child with His own Name.

So you are also heirs of God.  That means that you will inherit everything that belongs to God.  God has died in Christ, so the inheritance is yours by His last will and testament, sealed with His Body and Blood.  Already, you have His Name through Baptism.  You are kings in His kingdom.  You speak with His own authority whenever His Gospel is on your lips.

You will also inherit the new heaven and the new earth.  You will not be slave there, nor merely guests.  No, you are lords and kings, and will be owners and masters of all things.  For you are sons of God, and you will inherit the earth.

Sons are also invited to the table of their Father.  Here is the foretaste of the everlasting banquet.  Here a place is prepared for you where only sons of God have the right to sit.

In the Name of this all-glorious God.  Amen.

You may quote from my sermons freely, but please quote accurately if you attribute anything to me.

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