Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus himself was adopted? This struck me for the first time as I watched The Nativity Story last year. There is a beautiful scene in which a woman looks at Mary and Joseph and noticing that Mary is expecting says to Joseph, “There is no other joy than seeing yourself in your child.” Joseph and Mary look at each other knowing that this baby would not look like Joseph.
Though Jesus is not his biological son, Joseph of Nazereth, is clearly identified as Jesus’ father (Luke 2:41, 48). This is also seen in the fact that Luke and Matthew identify Jesus’ relationship with Abraham and David through the lineage of Joseph’s. Just as my adopted son inherited my lineage and is ingrafted into my family tree, so too was Jesus into Joseph’s.
A number of things strike me about this but one in particular is Joseph’s experience as an adoptive father. Dr. Russell Moore points out in his excellent commentary –
With full legal rights to abandon Mary and her unborn child — perhaps to a fate worse than death — Joseph obeyed the Father in becoming a father. When Herod — the Roman Empire’s precursor to “Planned Parenthood” — sought the destruction of the infants, Joseph shielded this child from the murderous rage of infanticide (Matthew 2:13-18). In his obedience, Joseph demonstrated what his other son would later call “pure and undefiled” religion, the kind that cares for the fatherless and the abandoned (James 1:27).
It is here that Joseph is perhaps a model for a new generation of Christians. In a culture captivated by the spirit of Herod, could it be that God is calling our churches to follow the example of Joseph?
The implications of Jesus’ adoption by Joseph were history-altering and life-transforming for all mankind. Imagine what would have happened had Joseph not claimed Jesus as his own and provided the protection and care that he did?
I pray for the many men this year who will follow the example of Joseph and obey God’s call on their lives to care for the fatherless. Joseph’s obediences literally changed history. We have an opportunity to change history (to a lesser degree but still significantly) by changing the future destiny of the fatherless and unborn of our world.