Frequently, adopted children face a deep crisis in their lives. I heard of such a case only recently. A young boy was about twelve years old, intelligent, and vibrant with life. He was active in school, and thoroughly enjoyed each day as it brought new challenges to him. Suddenly the vibrancy diminished and the luster of contentment paled as the very ligaments of life were severed. He was adopted! Dad and mom had not told him – Billy, his closest pal had stabbed him with that cruel truth, and now his bleeding heart could pulsate only hopeless despair. If he could not trust dad and mom, who could be trusted? He seemed so terribly alone.
Learning of this situation, I couldn’t help but ponder what I would have said if I had been that dad. Foolish to wait so long before telling him? – Yes. Nonetheless it had to be explained.
The thought came to my mind that really I am adopted, you are adopted – all God’s children are adopted. That would be a strong point of contact. The crumbling walls of life in such an instant would certainly fall more gently if the child knew he was not in a category all by his lonesome self, in that group labeled “adopted,” which to a child’s mind means something so separate, so unwanted, so miserably different.
We are adopted; What a joy to believe that, what comfort to confess that. God adopted us as His dear children.
We were not considered by our Father as the ones who were the most likely to make good children. We were not so outstanding that we were far above the rest of humanity, classified as those who would be the most useful, devoted, sincere, and dedicated children – children who would make Father happy and would enrich His life.
No, we were very shameful, dark, filthy children. We know that, even now, when we look at ourselves as we are by nature. How often do we not do things that are a disgrace not only to our earthly parents, but especially our Heavenly Father. If you look carefully you will see what I mean. It need not be those terrible sins that you see some young people commit. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you go to the movie, the tavern, the place of ill fame. Rather, it comes very close to home. It includes those T.V. programs you watch which could never delight our Father, those moments you wasted, that catechism or society lesson you failed to study, the opportunity you overlook and nonchalantly cast aside when someone told an off-color joke, the bad thought you entertained, and so we could go on. Yea, even worse, we have that terrible nature that is so defiled that we are rightfully called by nature, children of our father the devil: rebellious sons and daughters who despise the living God. Such sons, our Father adopted.
That adoption entailed a great deal of work for Him. It was not so that God, motivated by His love, simply looked at us and decided that He would take us into His favor. His love was not so overwhelming that He threw aside His justice and simply took us to be sons and daughters. Our adoption involved a great deal of legal procedure. God adopted us according to the requirements of His law. That procedure was the dark and terrifying way of the cross.
Jesus, hanging on the cross, cried with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me!” In that cry of agony, Jesus expressed the great depth of suffering into which He descended as the lamps of heaven were extinguished and the darkness of hell prevailed upon the cross. There God adopted you and me, sinners. There our sins were washed away. There He took us unto Himself as sons and daughters. Indeed, now are we called the sons of God.
But wait! This month is April, the month of Easter, Resurrection Sunday. What a day of significance that is for divinely adopted children. Why?
The resurrection is the certification that our adoption is legal, complete, and final. Is it any wonder that we sing with all the exuberance of youth, “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia.”
Certified Adoption – the resurrection, visible proof that Christ performed all that the law required in order that our Father might take us unto Himself as dear children. Sin was paid, the debt thereby removed. Jesus had drained the deepest dreg of suffering for our sin. Satisfaction was made before God. God was pleased. He raised Christ from the dead, demonstrating that all the demands of the law regarding adoption were fulfilled; we were justified. Now God could take to Himself His adopted children for the sake of Christ. The empty tomb is proof for us that we are adopted, we are safely in Father’s house, having a right unto everlasting life.
Children by adoption! His Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God, sons who daily live in the fellowship of life everlasting.
The joy of parents in adopting children does not simply rest in the decision of the courts to make them the legal parents. This joy leads to the real joy when mother and father can take the little child, cuddle him, play with him, train him in the fear of the Lord: the joy of family life.
So we, too, live with Father. He enters into covenant fellowship with us. He calls us by name. He pours forth his grace, mercy, and love into our hearts We experience the blessings of sonship, as Scripture labels them “all the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the power of such blessings, we walk each step of our course in boundless joy of Father-son.
Every day on our earthly pilgrimage we face new trials, new horizons, new problems. Especially when the security of childhood folds into the broad responsibility of adulthood, we encounter times of stress and strain. At certain moments we may even share the crushing blows of life as the young fellow who had just learned that he was adopted. Take courage! There always is proof that our Father cares for His adopted children – the resurrection. In the deepest moment of despair, the fear that haunts, or the sin that plagues, our fainting spirits may be revived as we look to the empty tomb and hear the testimony of the angels, “He is not here, He is risen as He said, come see the place where the Lord lay.” There we find proof that we are sons and daughters of our Father in heaven who is might in power, gracious in attitude, boundless in divine love. Nothing will separate us from Him, but all things will work to bring us to our mansion in glory where we will live in the perfect sonship with Father.