Joseph, an adoptive parent


joseph-father-of-jesus-2November is National Adoption Awareness month. As I have seen stories and reference to adoption this month, I have thought often about my own experience. Adoption is a key factor in my own story, which you can read here. As an adopted child I know that families are built on love, not just physical ties.

Adoption is also a theme in the book of Hebrews, which I have been studying this month. As shown in Hebrews 2:11-13, Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers.

So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. For he said to God, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.”

As sinful people, adoption is the the greatest form of grace that God can give us. Not just forgiven, we are welcoming to be part of his family. It is almost too much to comprehend. And what is even more amazing, adoption is the ONLY way into his family:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

But I was struck even more deeply by the beauty of adoption when I was searching for songs for an upcoming Christmas party. I was interested in songs associated with the story in Luke where Gabriel comes to Mary but I became immersed in the whole wonderful story of Jesus’ birth and the amazing role that Joseph plays. The angel that came to Joseph in a dream told Joseph exactly who Jesus is: “Emmanuel, God with us.” Matt 1:23

What must have gone through Joseph’s mind? How do you parent God? Yet Joseph didn’t seem to try to do anything special. He didn’t send Jesus away to the best schools or hire special tutors. He brought Jesus up in his carpenter shop and taught him his own skills. We  see this in Mark 6:2-3.

The next Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue to teach, and the people were astonished at his wisdom and his miracles because he was just a local man like themselves.  “He’s no better than we are,” they said. “He’s just a carpenter…”

I find great comfort in seeing how Joseph walked out his role as an adoptive parent. He gave his amazing child what he knew…how to work with wood…and trusted God to do the rest. This is a profoundly important principle of parenting for all of us who wonder how to love the amazing children God entrusts to us. We can take comfort in the model God has provided in Joseph to simply offer what we have, trusting God to fulfill his promises over their lives.


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