Good morning and welcome to the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Our focus this morning is on the miracle of adoption. In fact, we have a special guest with us who will be sharing with us in a few minutes. But before he comes up, let me set the stage. Joseph had a very special role in the life of Jesus. Imagine being asked by the God of the universe to adopt his One and Only Son and raise him as your own.
Why would God choose adoption as the means of bringing the Savior of the world into our lives? Let’s go back and look what happened. “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 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.” Matthew 1:20-21
Joseph knew he wasn’t responsible for Mary’s pregnancy - therefore she must have been unfaithful to him. In those days, a betrothal could only be broken by a legal divorce. To not divorce her might be seen as approval of her sin and that could lead to being shunned. People might boycott his business. They might even drive him out of town.
As he agonized over his dilemma, the Lord God appeared to him in a dream. “Don’t be afraid”. Isn’t it interesting how many of God’s messages start with those words? “Don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
So Joseph decided to adopt this little boy that was not his own. That’s a big deal! He decided to share his love, his home, his time, his money, his inheritance, even his name with someone not of his own body. He opened his heart and his pocket book to this baby.
If you have adopted children, or if someone adopted you, you know what that’s about. In a healthy adoption, there is no difference between the adopted child and the birth child; they are equals in every way. Rather than fear and scarcity, adoption is characterized by love and generosity.
The Father gave his Son to be adopted and raised by Joseph. Now that took incredible trust! Joseph took on the cost and responsibility to love, train, provide for a child that was not his own. That took incredible courage!
Would he have enough love? Enough wisdom? Enough money? What if things didn’t work out? Joseph didn’t have any promises. All he had was God’s command, “This is what I want you to do.” So that’s what he did. He made room in his life and heart, he shared his inheritance. It wasn’t easy; in fact, it ended up being harder than he could have imagined.
So what are we to learn from Joseph? What is God trying to teach us? There are lots of lessons here, but this may be the most important. Joseph’s willingness to adopt Jesus and bring him into his family circle is a picture of what God wants to do for you!
The Bible tells us we were slaves to sin. We belonged to no one. We had no inheritance. But through Jesus, God adopts us into his family. He makes us co-heirs with Jesus.
Listen again to these words from Ephesians. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.…In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:3, 5-6
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:7-10
“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Eph 3:6
In Galatians, Paul writes, “The Father sent his Son Jesus into the world to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Gal 4:5-7
Did you see that “Abba, Father”? Through the incarnation, God has given us the right to call the God of Creation, Sovereign of the universe “daddy” or as my grandchildren say, “papa”. To come without fear into his presence, no appointment needed. Remember when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray? Jesus said, “When you pray say, ‘Abba, daddy’.”
Did God know what he was doing when he asked Joseph to adopt his One and Only Son? Absolutely, it’s a sign to us of God desire to adopt us into his forever family, brothers and sisters of Jesus. And it’s a sign of how we are to care for other orphans that surround us.
At this time I want to call Pastor Aaron Scofield up to share with us about Child Bridge and their work in finding and supporting foster and adoptive families for Montana children in need. Aaron…