Special Easter 2019 Edition
There is a great scene toward the beginning of the extended movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring. A table of hobbits are sitting together enjoying each others company when one of them says, “There’s been some strange folk crossing the shire I heard. Dwarves and others of a less than savory nature. War is brewing. The mountains are fair teeming with Goblins.” One of the other hobbits, not pleased with what was just said, replies, “Far-off tales and childrens stories, that’s all that is. Your beginning to sound like that old Bilbo Baggins. Cracked, he was.” Then a negative comment is made about Frodo being cracked or crazy, too. Frodo simply responds, “And proud of it!” And then the hobbit that got this whole argument started made a very significant statement as it relates to the soon coming struggle of Middle-Earth. “Well it’s none of our concern what goes on beyond our borders. Keep your nose out of trouble and no trouble will come to you.”
As far as I’m concerned, that one statement gives us wonderful insight into the people of the Shire (and into ourselves!). Hobbits are a peace-loving, comfort-enjoying people who really care very little at all about the outside world. They enjoy their simple life and see no reason to be concerned with what happens in the land of the “big folk.” What they didn’t realize was that Trouble with a capital “T” was coming their way and unless there was decisive intervention the Shire and their happy way of life in it would perish. What they failed to see was that they were in dire need of decisive rescue from the growing evil shadow of the East. The hobbits were completely ignorant of their impending doom and of their desperate need for rescue.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen . . . But 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 1:3-5 & 4:4-6
Scripture’s teaching on adoption is exceedingly wonderful and strikingly beautiful. But its beauty can only be seen against its dark backdrop. Adoption is the highest blessing of the only religion that recognizes our hobbit like peril. Founders of other religions came primarily to teach. They came with a set of doctrines and an example to be followed. Although Jesus certainly was the greatest teacher mankind has ever known (understatements of all understatements!), Paul makes no mention of this when he gives us the Gospel nutshells that we find in Galatians 1:3-5 and 4:4-6. What we see in these texts is that mankind was in desperate need of rescue. Jesus came to rescue first and then (and only then) to be an example.
The uniqueness of Christianity’s teaching on adoption is that it comes to us and informs us of our absolutely helpless and perilous state. The Gospel does not first reveal Christ to us as a our guide and example. No, it first and dominantly reveals Christ as our Deliverer, our Rescuer. Christ came to earth; and before most people knew what was really happening, He had already accomplished every thing needed for the deliverance of his hobbit like people. He accomplished our redemption unto adoption as sons before we even knew we were perishing and unable to recover ourselves. This is the Good News of the Gospel.