Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jesus Was a Bastard and Why That's Good News

Have you ever wondered how Jesus felt around Joseph’s family while he was growing up? I’ve heard many sermons on how Mary was/is an excellent example of forsaking your own reputation for Jesus, and yet, I’ve never contemplated how Jesus might have felt. Yes, I’m sure it was difficult for Mary but more so for Jesus, I would think. He was a bastard, the one who didn’t belong, not like James his brother.

Joseph might have accepted Jesus, but he had an angelic visitation, which is fairly compelling I’m sure. His family didn’t see or hear from an angel, what was their reaction? Did the grandparents splurge on birthday and Christmas gifts for Jesus, the same as his siblings – the real children of Joseph and Mary?

I wanted 4 children but when I discovered that I couldn’t have [more] children (the story is told here) and that my one child was a miracle – I contemplated adoption for about 3 seconds and decided I couldn’t do it. I love my Boy - so much that it feels like the love is using all the air in my lungs. I was not confident of my ability to love a child that didn’t come from my body. Some people can, and do it spectacularly. I knew I couldn’t.  

Some people have an enormous heart and ability to love and include adopted children unconditionally and without distinction. I’ve seen it in action, but I’ve also experienced and witnessed the opposite – adoption that divides and withholds. Because of that, I’ve struggled with the concept of adoption as sons [and daughters] of God in the Bible, and I’ve said to the Lord, “Adoption isn’t good enough. I need more assurance.”

Ephesians 1:5, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”

The Lord answered by correcting my understanding of adoption in the days of the early church, and then he showed me the greater significance of the seen at Jesus’ baptism found in Luke 3.

It wasn’t a common practice to “adopt” a child that wasn’t part of your family. The early church understanding of adoption meant that at an appropriate age, the father (the head of the family) would bring his son to the town square and publicly declare, “This is my son.” The implication was the father was giving the son the ability to conduct business on behalf of the father; that when the son did something, it was as if the father was doing it. In this sense, the son was adopted by the father.

It’s a remarkable difference and made me feel better but I still had questions – to be a [true] son (or daughter), meant you had to be born into the family and be blood related.

Again, the Lord answered. Don’t you just love how he knows everything? Nicodemus asked Jesus a similar question under the cover of night. Jesus answered that he has to be born again (John 3), not in the natural but by the Spirit. This is only possible through faith, by the blood of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, we are born and we are blood-related.

Scripture doesn’t linger over the trials and tribulations of Jesus’ childhood, but we do know that he was despised and rejected by men, acquainted with sorrow, and familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53). He may have been treated differently by Joseph’s family but he had a Father, by whom he was loved. The scene at his baptism has greater depth for me now – to know that the Father audibly confirmed sonship, approval and love. The same acceptance and adoption is made available to every one of us also.

There are no orphans in the family of God.

What is your concept of adoption? Have you considered adoption yourself? Does the thought of being adopted by God encourage you? Please share in the comments.

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