12/27/2021 1:06:48 PM
An Apodosis for Christmas
Pastor Eric Schroeder - Christmas Day - Saturday, December 25, 2021
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? It’s likely that by now you have at least some idea of whether everyone got the gifts they were hoping for. It’s always helpful to have a list of ideas when you’re Christmas shopping, at least as a starting point for any of us who want to give the kind of gifts that family members will appreciate, and enjoy, and actually use rather than something they already have or something that will stay in the box forever. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones that nobody asked for. Maybe they wanted something but thought it was too expensive and didn’t want to put that burden on anyone else. Or it could be that rare case where you think of a better gift for someone than they ever thought of putting on a list. It might even be that the gift we give is something they didn’t even know existed, but it is going to change their life forever….at least that’s what we hope for.
Well, today, God has something for each of us to unpack in his word. It’s something we might not have been expecting. I suppose it might even be something we’ve never heard of before, but in these verses from Romans chapter 8, God gives us a message that is meant to change our lives as today, God gives each of us An Apodosis for Christmas.
Let me explain. I don’t want to make any assumptions, but the fact that you are here today or taking time to tune in online suggests that Christmas is something that is important to you. Of all the days of the year, this is one of the biggest—and of course it isn’t about the presents and the decorations and the food or even the family time. This day is about the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s son and Mary’s son, born into our world as our one and only Savior from sin. That’s what Christmas is all about. Christ the Savior is born.
So what? That’s the question for us to consider today. We’ve spent four weeks of Advent being told to get ready, and here we are. Now what? It’s time for the apodosis, so let’s make sure we all understand that term. As St. Paul was inspired to write his letter to the Romans, he has been building up to chapter 8. After a brief introduction, he laid out God’s law along with plenty of evidence that convicts every one of us as sinners without any hope of saving ourselves. In chapters 3-6 he revealed God’s plan of salvation to all who believe the good news of Jesus Christ as our Savior. We haven’t been righteous, but Jesus is. We were all guilty, but Jesus took on our guilt so that we could be declared righteous and given eternal life as a gift. God planned our salvation in eternity and fulfilled it when the time had fully come.
And now in chapter 8 we get into a long string of conditional statements that open up the Gospel for us. In other words, if the message of Jesus as our Savior is true (and it is!), then these are the results. If...then. If…then. If…then. And that’s where our term for today comes in. What is an apodosis? An apodosis is the conclusion of a conditional statement. The apodosis is the then because the if is true. Maybe an example helps: if the batteries in a flashlight die, then…what? It’s easy right? The flashlight won’t work until you change the batteries. One more. If you leave the cookies in the oven too long, then…what? Again, easy, the cookies get burnt. In each case, we know how it works. If one thing happens, the conclusion—the apodosis—is certain.
What about Christmas? What’s the apodosis when December 25 comes around again? Let’s look at the verses again and see what God says. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Now, if we listen to the voices of the world, or if we watch the Christmas movies, we can be led to the wrong conclusions and, in turn, wind up disappointed. That’s why so many people find themselves feeling worse around the holidays instead of better. It seems like everyone else is so happy, and they have these perfect pictures of perfect families on the Christmas card, and then the world makes promises of so-called Christmas miracles, where the lonely and heartbroken all fall in love, and those on the verge of homelessness meet a rich benefactor, and strained family relationships find a way of working themselves out so everyone gets along in the end. The commercials are filled with diamond rings and the latest technology and a new Lexus in the driveway with a big bow on top. And of course, all the kids will be happy when we look out the window on Christmas morning and a fresh snow is covering the ground. Is that what we’ve been expecting for Christmas? Because if so, there’s a good chance that we can all find ways to come away disappointed—all because we bought into the false Apodosis for Christmas. And it isn’t that we’ve set our sights too high; no, we’ve set the bar too low.
As hard as the bad news can hit, as deep as the backstabbing can be, as frustrating as it can be to keep trying so hard and seeing no results, and as furiously as Satan can point to our past to accuse us, what can we say in response to [Christmas]? If God is for us, [then] who can be against us? To us a child is born, to us a Son is given. He is Immanuel—God with us. And Satan can’t stand in his way, because he is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Christmas assures us that the Almighty God is not merely a passive observer of our misery, but rather that God is on our side, to come to us as one of us and to defeat all our enemies, because they are his enemies, too, and he will not fail.
It’s all the more amazing when we stop and think that we used to be God’s enemies, rebelling against him and his will from the time we were born. Every one of us has a sinful nature that refuses to submit to God’s law and is unable to fulfill it. But then comes Christmas. He is given the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. This child would live a life of overcoming every temptation, taking every opportunity to testify to the truth and rescue souls from the grasp of Satan, and ultimately defeat death by his victorious resurrection. God’s wrath fell upon him for our sins, and his righteousness is ours. His victory is ours. His perfect peace with God is ours. God is for us. The result is that no one can be against us.
The Apodosis for Christmas continues. If God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—[then] how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Does this mean Christmas is a guarantee of everything we want? No; it’s even better than that. Christmas assures us that God will give us everything that he determines is absolutely and eternally best for us. God gave up his son so that we could be adopted as his children. Would the perfect Father withhold anything we need? Would he allow anything which is truly harmful to us? Plenty of times in life we might be tempted to think that God either changed his mind or made a mistake; we have other ideas for our lives than God does, but the God who gave up his Son is also the one who promises to take everything that we call bad and turn it around for good in the end. We can’t say that God doesn’t know pain or loss or rejection or even death, because God the Son was willing to suffer all this for us. We can trust him every day to guide us as we live under grace in all things. If God gave his Son for us all, [then] his grace—his kindness, his compassion, his generosity—to us isn’t going to run out anytime soon.
So yes, Christmas Day comes and goes on the calendar, but the Apodosis—the result of what we are truly celebrating—continues forever. The baby boy grew up, but Jesus still lives as the guarantee of God’s everlasting love for us, his forgiveness of our every sin, and his promise that even though we entered this world as rebellious enemies of God, we will leave it as his children, because God is for us. Nothing and no one can stand in the way of his plans for us because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. He has proven that he is a Giver who will never stop giving good things; we know it because he has already given up his own Son, all so that we could be his, now and forever. That’s the apodosis for Christmas. In Jesus’ name. Amen.