It's Christmas, again, without my kids. I can't express how much every little brown-skinned kiddo jumps out at me when I go to the store, and how I walk past the toy aisles “just because” and how I hug fluffy snow-suits in the clothing section, wondering when a brown face will be peeping out at me. I'll try not to get too sappy, but this is where my heart has been for the season.
Sappiness aside, has it ever occurred to you the similarities between an international adoption story and God's divine adoption story?
I'll include some of my doodlings for illustration...
We are told in the book of Matthew that “this is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.””
In the book of Luke, we are told the next piece of the story. Mary, pregnant with Jesus, goes to visit her relative, Elizabeth, who is also expecting. Elizabeth's pregnancy was a miracle also, because Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah the priest, were very old. In addition, Elizabeth had never been able to conceive a child.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice [Elizabeth] exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
After Mary had heard this confirmation from Elizabeth, Mary overflows with the “Magnificat” in Luke chapter 1. It's one of my favorite passages of Scripture because it is a love-filled, awe-filled expression of worship.
Mary had a rough road ahead of her. She was young, supposedly pregnant out of wedlock, going to travel quite a distance right around her due date (no airplanes, cars or trains), have her baby in a barn, have a group of dirty, sheep-laden folk be the first to visit. She would watch Jesus grow up and be mocked for his “unknown” lineage, loose her husband and become a widow, and then watch her firstborn son die a criminal's death. Holy cow. Not a scenario many of us would otherwise choose, and not a happy, care-free environment for Jesus' childhood.
So Jesus was born, as predicted thousands of years prior, by many prophets.
He was visited by shepherds (hardly the upper-crust of society) who had been alerted to the birth by a herd? flock? passel? group? bunch? ...of angels.
Did it ever cross your mind that, 2000 year ago, the God of the universe placed His Son into an adoptive family? Ponder that a moment. Jesus would have known what it was like to grow up with stinging questions like “who's Your real dad?”. He would have known what it was like to be cared for by someone who had not fathered Him, to be looked down on because of the rumors that surrounded His birth. Joseph would have faced the challenge of fielding offensive questions, holding his chin up when people stared, and being disgraced by the assumptions of ignorant people. Their family was a “conspicuous family” and few people would have thought “adoption”. Most people thought “bastard.”
When Jesus was still a young child, He was visited by Magi. These wise men brought gifts that foretold pieces of His life:
Frankincense- because of His role as a priest mediating between humans and God, and
Myrrh- foreshadowing His death as a sacrificial sin-payment
The purpose of Jesus' birth was death. From the very beginning, His birth was prophesied to conquer the Enemy and be the blood-payment for deeds that He did not commit. When Jesus died on the cross, He made it possible for anyone who believes in Him to have eternal life, regardless of their race, messed-up family, marital status, sexual orientation, mistakes, victories, or GPA. Just have faith that Jesus took that punishment for your sin, and your sin will be forgiven.
So, what about adoption? Well, Jesus was part of an adoptive family. And, if we believe in Him, we are adopted into God's family, becoming heirs with Jesus Himself. Jesus as our Brother.
It struck me this morning: we will have to travel twice to Ethiopia. The first time, we will complete the paperwork to make our kids “ours”. They will be “ours”, but we will have to leave them in Ethiopia and go away. We will leave promises of our return and maybe some gifts. We do not know when we will be able to travel a second time, but we will come back and take our kids home to live with us.
Have you ever considered? This is the exact thing that happens to us in the Divine adoption! Jesus came once already, 2000+ years ago. He lived and died to pay the price to adopt us. Then, He left to go back to where He came from (with God the Father), to get our home ready for us. We don't know when He will return, we are just given promises that He will, and a Gift to help us as we wait: the Holy Spirit. Then, Jesus will come back again, super excited and triumphant, and take us home to be with Him forever.
Do you get it? It's such a beautiful thing! Praise God for His love of His children, and His promise to return! And worship Him this Christmas season!
Merry Christmas from our home to yours. Have a blessed time with your family!