In a few days, families around the world will gather to celebrate Christmas, and many of us will open our Bibles to reflect on the Christmas story.
In reading Luke 2 or Matthew 1, we’ll learn with Mary that she has been chosen to give birth to Jesus. We’ll travel with Joseph and Mary to the tiny town of Bethlehem–population: three hundred–and witness the humble birth of Christ in a lowly stable. We will then observe the shepherds and hear the angels. We’ll marvel with Mary as she treasures these things and ponders them in her heart.
And if we’re not careful, we’ll miss one of the most extraordinary characters in the Christmas story–a gracious Middle Eastern day laborer named Joseph who learned and accepted with joy that he had been tasked to raise the Son of God as his own child.
Joseph of Nazareth is not merely a prop in the manger scene–a plastic or ceramic piece to stick between the shepherds and the manger–he’s a real and necessary example of parenting a non-biological child for the glory of God.
By accepting a woman and her child into his family and raising the child as his own, Joseph teaches us 3 things about adoption …
3 things about adoption–
1. Adoption creates family. Family is not limited to genetics. The book of Matthew traces the genealogy of Christ through Joseph’s bloodline–as opposed to Mary’s–to establish the qualifications of Christ as Israel’s Messiah. The Bible communicates the legitimacy of Jesus in Joseph’s lineage.
2. Adoption is not Plan B. To believe that adoption is an unfortunate yet necessary alternative to infertility–is to believe the Christmas story wasn’t God’s good and perfect plan. Adoption–and adoptees–are not the exception to God’s goodness. God could have chosen any means to place Jesus in the world. He chose to put Jesus into Joseph’s family.
3. Adoption honors the character of God. When Joseph uprooted his family and moved them from Nazareth to Egypt in order to protect Jesus from the murderous intentions of Herod, he placed his own life, kinship, and inheritance at risk. His willingness to invest self-sacrificially in Jesus demonstrates the rich and Biblical echoes of God’s character as our Heavenly Father. Scripture is filled with examples of God’s love and protection for His children.
So as you read the Christmas story this month–or as you introduce the members of the manger scene to your children–don’t skip over Joseph. He is not merely a necessary supporting role in the Christmas cast of characters. He’s a good and Godly example of an adoptive dad who joyfully embraced his role in the life of Christ.
In very real ways, the Christmas story is an adoption story.
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