On Thursday, February 19th at 7:31 PM, I witnessed Samuel Whitworth Davis’ wondrous journey from mother’s womb to mother’s arms. The jury is still out on whether Samuel looks more like a Davis or a Nobles, but some Davis resemblance is undeniable. Seeing myself mirrored in Samuel’s features is such a fresh, profound experience that I hardly know how to describe it. I look at this tiny person and instinctively know, “That’s my son!”
This is an ancient experience. The Bible’s first human genealogy observes that Adam “fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Genesis 5:3). The first man looked at the man child he and Eve produced and said, “That’s my son!” Yet even this did not originate with Adam fathering Seth but echoed Adam’s own origins, when “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). The uncreated, invisible God, unbound by time or space, created the man in such a way that he could look at Adam and say, “That’s my son!” Indeed, Luke’s genealogy begins with Jesus and traces the line backwards through “the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38).
Luke situates his genealogy to remind us how God’s original “That’s my son!” declaration was spoiled by his children’s rebellion. Immediately following “the son of Adam, the son of God,” Luke records Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, an event that recalls both the temptation of God’s son Adam in the Garden of Eden and God’s son Israel in the wilderness. In both of those cases, God’s son chose not to trust his Father’s goodness or obey his word, ruining the family resemblance and breaking the bonds of intimate communion. Satan was two for two, and his intention to fell the faith of God’s son a third time was blatant in how he framed the first temptation to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3).
Yet unlike Adam and Israel, Jesus showed himself to be the true Son of God through his perfect trust in his Father’s word. For the first time since the fall, the full divine family likeness was seen in a human being as the eternal Son lived out his loving obedience in the flesh.
Thus our experience of sonship is not forsaken when we rebel against the Father and abandon his family’s values. God’s eternal purpose for his people is “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5). “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:4–6)
Though my experience with Samuel is a first in some regards, it is not the first time I have held a tiny boy in my arms and known, “That’s my son!” Stephan and Marcus are fully my sons, not because I “begat” them but because I adopted them. Though they look nothing like me, they are my sons as fully as Samuel is. Indeed, my prayer is that Samuel will learn from their example what it means to be a Davis man.
Adoption is gospel, good news for those of us who know we do not resemble God’s divine family. Our sonship (whether you are male or female) is not earned but declared. When we are united to Jesus by our trust in him, the Father looks at us and says, “That’s my son!” And in that relationship God works out his eternal purpose not only to adopt us as sons but also that we might “be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).
Let us receive our Father’s adopting love, cry out to him, “Abba! Father!” and as our trust deepens, may the family resemblance displayed by our elder brother Jesus be more and more evident in our lives.