The Full Rights of an Heir
We’ve all been mesmerized by stories where a prince doesn’t know that he’s a prince, doesn’t have a clue that he is the royal heir. Usually, these stores are placed in the Medieval World of kings, knights, and princes, and we watch the future heir struggle under the training of an experienced, trusted servant of the king. The prince is treated no better than a slave, but then the big reveal. On the day appointed by the king, his father, the prince discovers his identity and the father pours out all the blessings of his position upon the now mature prince.
For the Apostle Paul the setting was not the Middle Ages, but the first century, Roman world where it was common for a young son to be placed under the care and training of a trusted servant. The Mosaic Law plays the role of this trusted servant to protect, discipline, and train a young child, but the day the father reveals his identity, it’s crazy for the now recognized heir to go running back to his childhood tutor.
This is the argument Paul uses to explain to us why we shouldn’t go back under all the rules and discipline of the Jewish Law, a Law that was meant to lead us to Jesus, God’s true Son, the heir, who invites us to inherit all the joys of heaven with him by believing, not working.
“Now this is what I’m saying—as long as the heir is a child, he’s no different than a servant, though he actually possesses the entire estate. He’s under guardians, household managers, until the appointed day, set by his father. In this same way, when we were children we were enslaved by the basic principles of the world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. He sent him to redeem those under the Law so that we might receive the full rights of being adopted as sons and daughters.” Galatians 4:1-5
Jesus is the one Jew who fully met all the requirements of the Law, but he didn’t offer himself to us as a moral example to follow. Instead, he offered himself as the Savior who died to redeem us from our slavery to sin. Those who are tempted to think they can work to earn the right to be God’s heirs by performing certain religious rites, eating certain kinds of food, or scrupulously keeping religious feasts and holy days are like a full-grown heir running back to their childhood guardian. It doesn’t make any sense. When we simply believe in Jesus, it’s time to enjoy all the rights and privileges of being a fully adopted son or daughter into God’s family.
LORD, thanks that Easter isn’t just a religious holy day we celebrate once a year. Thanks that we celebrate that Jesus is alive every day of the year.
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