Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jesus, Adopted by God as His Only Son [#JesusFollowers]

"This day, I have begotten you"
On this Father’s Day, we celebrate our fathers and those who have been fathers to us, influencing our lives and making us the people we are today.

As followers of Jesus, we look to him as a father figure, but also as a brother – a fellow member of the Human Race who also looked to his father and those who were father figures in his life.

Jesus was adopted. But Joseph, the husband of Mary, wasn't the one who adopted him, as we have all been taught. The adoptive father of Jesus was none other than God, the Creator of the Universe.

Jesus was chosen by God (Matt. 12:18; Luke 9:35; 23:35) anointed by God (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38) and sent by God (Mark 9:37; Matt. 9:38; Luke 9:48; John 5:37). At his baptism, God’s voice says, "This day, I have begotten you," thus becoming his father by adoption. In early manuscripts of the Gospels, Joseph is clearly spoken of as the father and Mary as the mother of Jesus. In Luke 2:48, Mary says to Jesus, "Your father and I have been looking for you."

In Matthew (13:55) he is easily recognized by others as fully human and part of a human family, saying, “Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

Joseph was by all accounts a good father to Jesus, taking him to Jerusalem every year, performing everything according to the Law, and it is said that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:39-41; 52)

The early church spoke of Jesus as a man, chosen by God. In Peter’s sermons in Acts, he speaks of him as, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God (Acts 2:22) and “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good.” (Acts 13:38.) Jesus is spoken of as a man’s offspring, the direct descendant of David (Acts. 13:23) and according to the Genealogy provided in the Gospels, this must be through his father, Joseph.

Thus, the early church that gathered in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus and his return to God in the resurrection, saw Jesus as a man, chosen by God, sent by God and adopted by God at his baptism to proclaim a Good and Beneficial Message to mankind, the Gospel, calling on all to repent. It could be no other way, since the Jewish Jesus Followers of that age (before the destruction of Jerusalem) continued to attend the Temple there every day.

If we believe this, what does it mean to us? What difference does it REALLY make if Jesus was adopted by God or was instead created by the seed of God Himself – an otherworldly being who was only adopted and raised by Joseph?

Jesus’ full humanity is vital to our ability to obey Jesus. Jesus tells us we must obey God and following the example of Jesus as a perfect role model of that behavior.

The Adoption of Jesus by God preserved the humanity of Jesus, allowing us to rely on his example and see through him a “Clear Glass” what God wishes for us all.

If Jesus is divine, fully or even partially, the example of Jesus that he set for us can be portrayed as meaningless as goals, because, it can be said, we cannot hope to accomplish them. They make his message and commands meaningless, too, and turns him into a mocker or a false prophet, urging us to do what cannot possibly be done – to be exactly like a half-man/half-God, a demigod, who was endowed in a way that we are not.

The church of Christendom today (specifically Protestant Christendom) believes exactly this: that we cannot be like Jesus, the Demigod, so we should not even try to do the Good Works that he commanded. We can, they say, only believe “on” him in order to gain his goodness and righteousness magically, by our mere words and beliefs, and that full obedience of Jesus’ commands is literally impossible.

But this makes not only Joseph, but Jesus, into an irrelevancy. It makes obedience seem impossible. It makes the words of Jesus into a mockery, and we know that Jesus himself said that his words would “not pass away” even as he said the Jewish world around his followers would.

Today, we must look to Jesus as the son of a human father – a man adopted by God to be the specially anointed Prophet who brings us a message that liberates us and elevates us, telling us that we MAY and MUST obey God and become righteous in our deeds, not just in our intentions and mere words, always relying humbly on God for strength to become more like His adopted Son, Jesus. That is the message of the Gospel, pure and simple.