February 8th, 2023 – Late Wednesday Afternoon
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…” ~1 John 3:1a
One look at this passage reveals an interesting thing: The beloved disciple – John, the “one whom Jesus loved” – seems moved to awe at the love which the Father has poured out on His children. Now what is so awesome about a Father loving His children – especially to one so familiar with God’s love? Hmmm…If the beloved disciple is exclaiming at this aspect of God’s love, perhaps it would be wise for us to pause and understand what it really means.
Read the passage again. John identifies a specific result of the Father’s love as the reason for his awestruck outburst; this result is that we have been called children of God. What is so special about that? I mean, we know that God’s love is special and that it was His love for us that put Jesus on the cross, but what about us being called children of God caused John to exclaim so in his letter? A brief reflection on Roman adoption might be helpful…
Roman adoption usually was for the sake of the family name or heritage (such as in the case of a childless couple who had no heir), not for the sake of the adopted. It carried with it full, legal privileges; an adoptee was treated as equal to the adopter and the adoptee was usually an adult. The adoptee became the living heir and partaker of the inheritance (meaning that the adopter didn’t necessarily need to die in order for the adoptee to have access to the inheritance). The adoptee would sever all ties to his original family and all of his old debts were gone; he now had the name, identity, and fortune of his adopter. Roman adoption also usually involved those close to the adopter, meaning that the adoptee was usually a relative of the adopter or of the adopter’s close friends.
Looking at John’s words in light of this understanding of adoption, God’s love for us is heightened when we consider the following: 1. God elevated us from being children of the devil to being children of God. 2. God benefitted nothing (in a material, human sense) from our adoption as children; we, on the other hand, benefitted supremely. 3. We have gained full access to the unlimited resources (riches) found in Christ Jesus. 4. All of our old sin debt has been cancelled and we have a name, an identity, and untold blessing as children of God. 5. We were not relatives of God or relatives of close friends – no indeed, not even slaves in His household! Rather, we were enemies of God! And yet, He chose to adopt us in Christ Jesus. 6. The list could go on, but are we getting the point that John is making? See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God!
Brethren, let us bow in humble adoration and thankful gratitude for the love of our Father! Then, let us live – by His power and authority – lives that reflect our new identity as His children and as co-heirs with Christ Jesus – our Lord, our Savior, and our hope. Hallelujah!