We know Dave Thomas as the creative energy and folksy character behind the successful Wendy’s restaurant chain. Many also know Dave Thomas as a strong champion for adoption issues. Thomas was adopted as a baby, yet he lost his adoptive mother when he was a young child; then two stepmothers. His rags to riches story was much hard work and humble growth. His greatest ambition early in his career was to grow his business so his children could work with him.
Adoption brings with it some baggage. In the past, shame followed those who grew up feeling unwanted by their birth parents and disconnected from their foster parents. Thomas’s own story has a wonderful conclusion, but only because, as he himself admitted, having a permanent home was much more formative than being an orphan in foster care. He knew that he was wanted as a part of a family.
One passage of scripture which doesn’t get much recognition as a Christmas scripture is part of this passage from Galatians 4:4-5 (HCSB): “When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
There it is – the culmination of God’s redemptive plan, the arrival of the fore-ordained King, the rationale for His death, and His remarkably ingenious plan for to avoid everlasting judgment for our sin. God became a Son, so that we could become the sons and daughters of God.
Remarkable! Amazing! Look at how Jesus taught us to pray (in what we call the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:9a GNT): “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father…’” We are no longer orphans, but fully adopted sons! Many parables and teaching of Christ considered the perspective of Fathers and their children. Jesus told us that “unless you become as little children,” that we would not see the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3). This was not merely for us to act in simple faith to trust in Him and follow after Him. We needed to be adopted into the family of God to have the legal covering of His shed blood for our justification. We cannot now be accused by the enemy of our souls of being dirty rotten sinners, because we have legally been grafted into the Family of God.
Jesus was the son of Joseph for legal purposes, as found in the genealogy of Matthew’s gospel. In Matthew the lineage traces the legal Kingship of Jesus. In a sense this was a type of adoption, when Joseph later took Mary as his wife, and Jesus became his legal heir. Through Joseph Jesus was a “son of David.” Through Mary Jesus was also a “son of David;” because His blood line was with Mary. But He avoided a prophetic pronouncement on one of the wicked heirs of Solomon. Through Mary’s lineage also, Luke takes us all the way back to Adam.
So by Jesus’s blood He is linked to Adam and as the Son of God becomes the “second Adam” (remember “Hark the Herald Angels Sing?” See 1 Corinthians 14:45-47). And by His adoption through Joseph He has the legal authority to become a “son of David.” Through both parents He becomes the Eternal King on David’s throne which God promised to David (2 Samuel 7:13).
By legally adopting us into His Family, God remains faithful to judge those who, following the first Adam, continue to pursue a selfish sinful path. We must choose Christ and this spiritual adoption not only to be declared righteous, but to also enjoy the benefits of this kingly familial relationship. Returning to the Galatians passage we read this (Galatians 4: 6 & 7, HCSB): “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
We are no longer slaves, but sons! We are no longer orphans, but family! Celebrate your redemption from sin by rejoicing in the birth of Christ, and your adoption as well this Christmas.