Adoption Option

‘But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ – Galatians 4:4-5

That verse is one of a few that have always given me a bit of heartburn.

Not because it uses the S-word (sons), but because it uses the A-word.


God made me, and He made me in His image. If I have a Father, He’s it. Why on Earth (or Heaven) would he have to adopt me?!?

Not that there’s anything wrong with adoption. I’m a big fan of this practice – having had no first-hand experience with it I can’t say much about what it’s like from the inside, but for my money, adoptive parents are just as good as biological parents.

Maybe better.

After all, they get to choose their children – we biological mums and dads are stuck with whatever little monster we get. (The fact that the little Frankenpetkau is half-me and half-her can be a small consolation, since we don’t get any input on which half!)

As Texas megapreacher/author Max Lucado said in a sermon last year, there are surprise pregnancies (and unwanted ones), but no surprise adoptions (and certainly no unwanted ones).

So in short, adoption good.

A few months ago, I made a new friend who’s a foster dad. He and his wife have happily fallen into the occupational hazard of adopting a couple of their former fosters, and he shared some interesting insights on adoption.

Most notably, he pointed out that Jesus was adopted.

Scripture speaks quite often of the Saviour coming from the House of David, but as far as my friend and I can tell, he gets that from Joseph’s side of the family, not Mary’s.

Matthew 1:1-2: ‘This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers…’
(… Begat begat begat …)
Matthew 1:16: ‘… and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.’ 

Joseph was not in the room at the time of Jesus’ conception, so he’s the Saviour’s adoptive dad! (Kinda puts the term ‘Son of Man’ in a different light, doesn’t it?) But regardless of this reality, the Bible continues to speak of Jesus as a descendant of David. That’s a pretty strong endorsement of adoption, in my book (and God’s Book, too)!

If it’s good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us, too, right?

Sure, it’s good enough. No problem there. But that doesn’t address the original question: why is it necessary for God to adopt me, when I’m already His son?

If we’re adopted by God once we choose Him, are we orphans before we choose Him? I don’t like the sound of that, and it also doesn’t seem accurate.

‘Orphan’ doesn’t seem to apply when our Parent is alive. I always thought of the relationship between God and His unbelieving children more like estrangement than disownment.

But is that how God sees it? Or is our disobedience and sinfulness such an affront to Him that it’s tantamout to us disowning our Father? (Yes, I’m suggesting that we do the disowning in this exercise in speculation.)

That theory might be worth meditating on, but I’m not convinced it’s completely accurate.

For one thing, other spots in the Bible don’t point directly to full-fledged disownment and adoption, do they?

When the Prodigal Son returns home, the father doesn’t have to formally adopt his wayward offspring, he just gives him a hug, a ring and a robe and bada-bing, the boy is restored to his dad’s house.

But the biblical adoption references are too many to ignore. In addition to the Galatians verse I mentioned earlier, there are other passages that directly and indirectly support the idea that God adopts us when we turn to Him.

What gives?

An answer was revealed to me this week in a story from another Max Lucado sermon podcast from last year.

In Max’s story, a boy makes a toy sailboat, then loses it, then finds it in a pawnshop and buys it back.
‘Now you’re mine twice,’ the boy says to the boat on the way home. ‘First, I made you, and then I bought you.’ 

Just like the sailboat, Max says, we Born Again-ers are God’s Children Twice.

Seems a bit over the top, doesn’t it? Surely one parental relationship would do it. Reinstatement would suffice.

For us.

But apparently not for God.

Maybe that’s because in Christ, each of us is a new creation with a new heart and a new name.

‘Behold, I am doing a new thing.’ – Isaiah 43:19a (ESV)

That newness demands a new commitment, not the mere repair or resumption of an old one.

And in the same way that the New Testament is the fulfilment of the Old, not the abolition of it (see Matthew 5:17), I think our adoption in no way discards the fact we’re God’s natural children, it confirms it. Reaffirms it. Animates it. Puts flesh on its bones. Turns it from 2-D to 3-D and from black-and-white to Technicolor(TM) – that one was for you, RJ.

And, you know, I’m not sure that saying we’re God’s Children, Twice (GC2) does justice to this new reality. Maybe it’s more like we’re God’s Children, Squared. (GC2)

The concept might be a little out there, but I think it might also be right in here. Think on that, brothers2 and sisters2.

Peace be with you.

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About robpetkau

Communications professional by day, amateur musician by night, worship leader (at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Calgary) on weekends and aspiring Bible teacher in my dreams. Grateful husband to the woman who completes me. Doing-the-best-I-can dad to the son and daughter who keep me on my toes. Striving disciple of the GodMan who came, taught and died for me. Thanks for stopping by!
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