The Baby Adopted Us
The Bible is not a haphazard collection of religious thoughts. One common theme emerges from sixty-six books—volumes of law, historical works, poems, first-person narrative accounts, parables, wisdom literature, and apocalyptic prophecies. This theme is adoption through redemption. God the Father brings us into His family through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit then seals our adoption for eternity.
Written by kings and outlaws, the Bible was not thrown together without foresight. The Bible is God’s planned, intentional, and strategic revealed Word to us. Therefore, the Christmas story is not disconnected from the rest of the Bible. It is a critical part of an ongoing narrative. Christmas is the announcement: Good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Salvation does not happen without a nativity.
Why did Jesus come as an infant? Why not a full-grown man? One answer is obvious—the fulfillment of prophecy. The virgin birth was a sign of His divinity. Jesus’ infancy, however, was a sign of His humanity. The complete sacrifice of Jesus on the cross required a full commitment to humanity. God struggled to walk. God cried out in confused hunger in the middle of the night. Mary changed God’s diapers. God learned His own voice. The One who holds all things together was bound tightly in swaddling clothes by a young mother.
Without Mary, grace is not nurtured. Without Mary, grace does not grow in wisdom and stature. Grace does not become a man. Grace does not go to the cross.
When you have a baby, everything changes. New timelines emerge. You don’t wait to feed a child or change a diaper. New structures emerge. You can’t just go somewhere without some level of planning. A new pace emerges. If you want to understand eternity, walk with a toddler up a long flight of steps.
To raise a child, you must accommodate a child. To nurture an infant, you have to stoop to the level of an infant. At Christmas, we celebrate how God came like us to save us. He brought salvation to our level.
In Galatians 4:4-5, the Apostle Paul reveals the first Christmas was more complex than what is often depicted in our nativity sets. What was God doing? Time came to completion, and one Member of the Trinity entered creation to save creation. The entrance was unusual and unexpected. A young woman from a do-nothing town birthed a child—fully human and fully divine. Human, as to sympathize with our weaknesses. Divine, with the power to save.
This child was born under the law. God followed His own rules when He came to save us. Why? So those under the law could be redeemed. Jesus kept every law and then took our penalty for failing to keep them. What was the purpose? Here is the key: That we might receive adoption.
I can’t understand Joseph’s anxiety. The mere thought of raising God’s Son is a tremendous burden. But the carpenter dad would teach the young Savior the value of work. The concept of atonement crafted in Joseph’s workshop. I will never carry a burden like Joseph, but what I can understand is the love of adoption.
Adoption in our context is rightly understood as the legal act of a parent bringing a child into the family. My wife and I are currently in the process of adopting our foster son. We didn’t start fostering to adopt. Reunification with the existing family is the goal of fostering. Relocation to a new family is the goal of adopting. Both are noble, but separate.
Every adoption begins with a tragedy but ends with redemption. Our son’s case is no exception. His story is one of tragedy. The goal of reunification has changed to adoption.
When we think of adoption in our context, it’s typically that of a family inviting a child into the home. My wife and I are preparing to adopt our foster son. This preparation is more a legal formality since he’s very much part of our family.
Adoption in the Bible is God’s way of bringing us into His family. We are His children justified—legally. We are His children redeemed—spiritually. We are His children ultimately glorified—eternally.
This process of adoption is impossible apart from baby Jesus. But we don’t adopt the baby. We can’t.
Every adoption begins with a tragedy. Sin tragically separates us from God. Enter the baby. What begins with tragedy ends with redemption. The tragedy of sin is remedied in a manger. Christmas is the announcement of good news of great joy for all people.
The baby has adopted us.