Adoption at the Cross

Mary holding Jesus at the cross

Out of character for the Son of God?

One of the sins of Christianity is that we have a habit of parsing God into pieces and then, for all intents and purposes, just keeping the parts that fit…that confirm…our picture of Him.

And it’s not just God the Father we do that with…God the Son is also a victim of our theological scalpels. For instance, how may sermons do you hear about Jesus acting like a madman and brandishing whips and knocking over tables (John 2:15)…or telling the Syrophoenician woman she was a dog and that her daughter wasn’t as important as Jewish children (Mark 7:26-29)…or when our Lord looked at people with anger instead of compassion (Mark 3:5)?

No, we’d much rather focus on the warm-fuzzies of Jesus’ ministry.

In some respects this habit of mentally minimizing apparently contradictory information about Jesus is good. How many of us have had a friend accept a bad report about us and then asked him or her, “How could you believe that?! Haven’t you known me long enough to know better?!” Better to reserve judgment when something seems out of character than to assume it’s true.

Well, better to always reserve judgment until we have the complete story…even with someone whose history seems to confirm the bad report we just got.

But, getting back to God, we are to accept “all” of Him completely and without reservation; otherwise, the God we worship is one of our own construction, not the one who offers us salvation in exchange for faith.

The object of our faith is very important. It must be the true God, not our own concoction.

Was Jesus rude to his mom?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Of course, I mentioned those three incidents in the worst possible light…and all have reasonable explanations that reconcile apparent contradictions with Jesus’ otherwise manifested character. However, I’ve always found another incident with our Messiah to be a bit difficult to digest. Let’s look at it together in John 2:1-4:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.

So, Jesus, His disciples, and His mother are all invited to a wedding. It’s a joyous occasion as people celebrate the blessing of a union that was first created all the way back in the Garden.

However, a bit of a wrinkle arises…the master of the feast didn’t pick up enough wine at Shaw’s or the New Hampshire State Liquor Store…and the open bar has exhausted its supply. In the midst of the happy celebration, Mary goes to her son and asks Him for help.

And Mr. Cranky-Pants answers, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?”?!

Now, I don’t know about you…but if Mikey answered my wife that way…even for a request to do a poopy-run outside…dad would be extremely unimpressed and would communicate said judgment with his rude son.

Or, do you all refer to your mom as “woman”?

Jesus’ final hours…

Let’s temporarily file that incident in the back of our minds…and switch from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry here on earth to it’s end…as in the last 24 hours.

Now, I don’t know about you…but if I only had 24 hours left to live…

And not only that, but I knew that I was going to be falsely accused…that the vast majority of people were going to believe the false accusations (and that all my closest friends were going to abandon me…not to mention my family already thought I was nuts)…that I was going to be tortured…and that my method of execution was going to be long, painful, and public…

Well, I might find it a bit difficult to think about anyone but myself. Sure, I’d worry about my family…probably try to get some last sage words of love and encouragement to April, Jenn, Mikey, Augie, and Michelle…

But I’d probably be spending a lot of time thinking about me…and who would blame me?!

But Jesus…

However, as Jesus faced all those conditions, we learn in Luke where His concern was…

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (Luke 22:14-15).

“When the hour came.”

What hour was that? [The hour He was to be arrested, abandoned by his friends, tried, convicted, tortured, and crucified. You know, the hour Jesus told His mom “has not yet come.” Well, now it had. ]

So, this is within the last 24 hours of his life…and what was His earnest desire?

One last steak at Longhorn’s? An M&M McFlurry at McDonald’s?

A bottle of aged whiskey to help physically and mentally deaden the impending pain?

A little “me time” to (understandably) feel sorry for Himself?

No, He “earnestly desired to eat” the Passover meal with His disciples. And, although we won’t do it right now, if you head over to John chapters 14-17 you’ll see exactly why Jesus wanted to have His last supper with His disciples.

And it wasn’t because the bread and wine was especially delicious at Passover. 🙂

Instead, He knew what His arrest, trial, torture, and execution would do to His disciples and His thoughts were about them, not Himself.

He was going to go through real hell, but He was more worried about the emotional and spiritual hell they were going to experience.

At the arrest…

Now, if we had read John chapters 14-17…when we hit chapter 18 we would have come to the narrative of Jesus’ arrest. Verses 10 and 11 including an interesting incident during the arrest:

10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:10-11)

Hmmm…if someone came to unjustly do me harm…to unjustly kill me…and one of you pulled out a weapon to defend me…I might be fist bumping you instead of telling you to put your Glock away.

Not only does Jesus do the opposite, but we know from Luke He does something truly amazing:

50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him (Luke 22:50-51).

So, let me get this straight. Some guy is with the mob that is going to take me to my death by force…one of my friends lops off his ear trying to defend me…and not only do I emphatically tell my friend to stop it…

I take time to patch-up his ear?

I don’t know about you, but that servant would look more like Van Gogh if the occurrence went the way I’d be naturally inclined to have it happen.

At the cross…

We’ll fast forward at this point past all His disciples abandoning Him, the kangaroo court, the spineless Roman governor, His people screaming for his crucifixion, His cruel torture, and the mocking He received from Roman soldiers and one of the thieves on the cross (along with others viewing His crucifixion)…

At this point would we all agree that Jesus had every reason to be more concerned about Himself than anyone else? Personally, considering how agonizing that form of execution is, I would be amazed if I could think of anything other then my pain…physical and mental.

But…Luke again shares something quite surprising:

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:32-34).

Huh?! You all take me out back and pound some nails through my wrists and ankles…and I can’t imagine “Father, forgive them” will be a likely phrase you’ll here.

“Father…how about a little of that fire coming down from heaven stuff?” is more likely. 🙂

Shortly before He passed away Jesus was more concerned about His crucifiers than He was Himself.

Back to “mom”…

Which, brings us back to the Gospel of John. John records another interesting tidbit from Jesus’ time on the cross:

26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:26-27).

In the midst of His “time”…Jesus still is thinking more about others than Himself. In this case it’s His mom He makes sure it going to be taken care of.

And, oddly enough…there is a word in those verses that brings us right back to that head-scratching statement from Jesus at the wedding at Cana.

Did you catch it?

“Woman, what does this have to do with me?”

“Woman, behold your son!”

Woman. Not just the same English word…but the same word in Koine Greek too.

It may have seemed callous back in John 2…but nobody can claim Jesus is unloving or rude in John 19!

And that is why we let Scripture interpret Scripture…

Jesus may have been rebuking His mom a bit back in John 2…but even as her son He was still the Son of God…and she was asking Him to do something she shouldn’t. Regardless, don’t put any terrible meaning into that word “woman” in John 2:4 that you wouldn’t in John 19:26.

And don’t forget that back at the wedding He also still lovingly fulfilled the mistaken request of His mother…

Adoption

“Woman, behold your son!”

“Behold your mother!”

Have you thought much about those words?

Consider this from the Word Biblical Commentary:

26—27 Jesus speaks, not to the women as a group, but to his mother, and to the Beloved Disciple, of whose presence by the cross we now learn. Jesus is conscious that the end is near (v 28). His brief words to his mother and the disciple are not just a commendation or suggestion; they are more like a testamentary disposition, in language reminiscent of adoption. Stauffer was very definite about the form of the statements; he wrote, “A crucified man has the right to make testamentary dispositions, even from the cross. Jesus now makes use of this right, and with the official formula of the old Jewish family law he places his mother under the protection of the apostle John: ‘Woman, behold your son! Son, behold your mother!’ ” (Jesus and His Story, 113). An example of the formula-like language, not applied to real adoption, is seen in Tobit, when Tobit is engaged to Sarah; to him it is said, “From now on you are her brother, behold she is your sister” (7:12).1

Jesus’ dying wish was the equivalent of an adoption pact. One that would would bring His beloved disciple under the care of His mom…but…more importantly…would also ensure the care of His mom.

Our God…in the midst of excruciating pain…remembered dear old mom…and in a way far better than a sailor’s tattoo or an NFL player’s, “Hi mom!”

What a glorious God we have!

You know what? That isn’t the only adoption that happened at the cross. Because…

…when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5)

Or, as further described in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:14-17).

And Ephesians further states that…

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Ephesians 1:4-5).

Not only did God send His son “when the fullness of time had come” “so that we might receive adoption as sons” (and daughters)…

It is an adoption that allows us to cry, “Abba! Father!” Like calling God “dad” instead of “father” as we would do our own dads.

And it’s an adoption that He planned on “before the foundation of the world”…

An adoption we predestined for.

What a glorious God we have!

Not forgotten…

As I quickly jumped through Jesus’ last 24 hours, I showed how…just before and in the midst of terrible, painful injustice…

Jesus didn’t focus on Himself like we would, instead…

  • He worried about His disciples
  • He worried about those who crucified Him
  • He worried about His mother

But, you know what? He also worried about you!

“Yeah, yeah Alan, He died for us…so of course He worried about us!”

No, I mean He specifically mentioned you and me:

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:20-21)

In His last 24 hours…where nobody would blame Him for only having concern about Himself…

  • He worried about His disciples
  • He worried about those who crucified Him
  • He worried about His mother
  • He worried about you!

John, the disciple Jesus loved, was adopted into Jesus’ earthly family.

As we all know, earthly families…as much of a blessing as they are…are imperfect.

Luckily, John, Mary, you, and me have been adopted into Jesus’ heavenly family…

And speaking of adoption…

You may have heard about how Russia, in retaliation for something the U.S. did, outlawed Americans adopting Russian children. While reading about it, I was amazed to find out that the process…back when it was still allowed…could cost $50,000.

$50,000!

Now those are parents who really want those children.

Jesus gave up the glory he had in heaven and came down in the form of a slave (see Philippians 2)…

Jesus gave up the glory he had in heaven and came down in the form of a slave even though He knew…

  • He was going to be falsely accused
  • The majority of the people were going to believe the false accusations
  • His family was going to think He was nuts (see Mark 3:21)
  • His closest friends were going to abandon him (see Mark 14:50)
  • He was going to be cruelly tortured
  • He was going to be mocked
  • He was going to be crucified
  • He was going to die a long, painful, and public death
  • He was going to be treated as sin and forsaken by the Father (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Mark 15:34)

$50,000 doesn’t seem so much anymore, does it?

Your adoption is far better than any earthly adoption.

Your adoption is far better than any earthly adoption.

Your adoption was far more costly than any earthly adoption.

Your adoption was far more costly than any earthly adoption.

Will you live up to your “Adoption at the Cross”?

Footnotes

1Beasley-Murray, G. R. (2002). Vol. 36: John. Word Biblical Commentary (349). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.


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