On December 29, 2016, when he was 2 years, 10 months, and 22 days old, Gloria and I legally adopted Jasceon Watson. That day, we commemorated his new identity with his new name, Jabez Jasceon Watson Yi.
The very next morning felt like so many mornings past. “Jay” hopped up on his bathroom stepstool, and we stood together in front of the bathroom mirror. I was spreading his toothpaste onto his toothbrush when I looked up and caught his eyes gazing into mine through the mirror.
Quite matter-of-factly, Jabez declared, “Dad, you’re my dad!”
My quivering voice squeaked, “Yes, Jay. And you’re my son.”
In the Scriptures, we observe at least several examples of adoption.
Although she would have been well aware of her father’s royal death sentence condemning all Hebrew male infants, the Pharoah’s daughter adopted Moses as her own son.
“Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she had no father or mother… When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter” (Esther 2:7).
When it comes down to it, we’re all adopted. Thankfully.
Samuel was probably just a toddler when his mother, Hannah, surrendered him to the Lord in Shiloh by placing him in the care of Eli, the High Priest. Although he had sons of his own, Eli raised Samuel who becames the Lord’s prophet and judge.
With both his father and grandfather dead, Mephibosheth probably possessed little more than the protection and care of his guardian, Machir. That is until David sought him out. David adopted a grown Mephibosheth into his household, as he “ate at the king’s table like one of the king’s sons.”
Joseph planned to wed Mary. Mary became pregnant. The problem was bigger than he could have imagined: the baby wasn’t his son, but God’s! Still, Joseph adopted, raised, and protected Jesus. How do we know Joseph treated Jesus as his own son? When the boy, Jesus, was found in the temple after days of separation from his family, Mary exclaimed, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
In numerous places, the Apostle Paul, speaks to what is the most significant adoption story of all. God’s adoption of you and me.
Consider Romans 8:15 and 23, Galatians 4:4-6, and Ephesians 1:4-6. Paul gives a sober reminder to the Ephesian church. It was a church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles—peoples who formerly shared a dividing wall of hostility. The first held claim to an ancient birthright, a covenant. The second had no claim at all. They “were dead in [their] trespasses and sin…,” “walked according to the ways of this world… according to the ruler…working in the disobedient…,” “by nature children under wrath…,” “Gentiles,” “uncircumcised,” “without Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenant of promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-12).
As Gentiles, without Jesus, we too had an identity; it just wasn’t one we would want. We were “by nature children under wrath.”
“But God… rich in mercy… great love… made us alive by Christ…raised us up… and seated us in the heavens in Christ Jesus.” “But now in Christ Jesus, [those] who were far away have been brought near… so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father… no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:4-5, 13, 17-19)
Did you get that? In Christ, the stranger has been united to the child with the covenant. Despite our former identity, in Jesus, we have access to the same Father. The two who shared hostility to each other, now have peace together in Christ as members of the Father’s family. By the unmerited favor of God in Christ, we have been adopted into a new identity, new rights, and new benefits.
Jabez Jasceon Watson Yi doesn’t have Daddy’s genes (or Mommy’s), but he knows his identity. He knows his father and whose child he is. How? He is loved by his daddy, and he loves his daddy right back. Jabez is so steeped in his seemingly unnatural identity that he very naturally indulges in all the rights and privileges of being a member of the Yi family. The heavenly Father has offered to each of us an unnatural birth—a supernatural rebirth—into his household through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God who has bestowed on us all the rights and privileges of daughter- and sonship!
“But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
John Yi is a church planter catalyst serving with IBSA and NAMB in Chicagoland. He is the father of two and with his wife, Gloria, has fostered a dozen children.