Today is Father’s Day.
For some that is a glad and easy celebration and remembrance. For others it is a day mixed with sorrow and regret for a relationship that once was and now is gone or for a desired relationship that was never possessed. That makes worship easy for some and difficult for others.
So whether Father’s Day is either glad or sad, we must find the object of our worship to be greater than our earthly relationships. And that is why I have grown fond of the oft-told story of Jonathan Edwards who wrote the following to his daughter Lucy shortly before his death:
Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a father who will never fail you.
Who is this Father in heaven that will never fail that a dying man can take great comfort in Him and offer Him as an encouragement to his children?
On one occasion, the disciples heard Jesus praying, and the significance of that prayer so impressed them that their immediate response was: “Teach us to pray!” [Wouldn’t you like to have heard that prayer!]
So Jesus taught them. What followed was not a formula for us to pray, but a model to teach us how to pray. And it begins not with confession, not with a petition for our needs, and not with thanksgiving, but with a recognition of and commitment to our relationship with God — our Father.
Those two little words “our Father” (Mt. 6:9) are so commonly used in prayer today, that the significance of Jesus’ use of them is now lost. But the turn of a few pages in the Bible back to the Old Testament quickly reveals that with this phrase, Jesus was inaugurating a radical understanding of God. In the Old Testament, God is never directly called “Father,” and in fact there are less than seven references to Him as Father!
So to the ears of His listeners, not only did it appear presumptuous that Jesus should call God “Father,” but it was preposterous to suggest that anyone could have such an intimate relationship with the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe that He could be called “Father.”
Then something even more amazing happened. Following the resurrection of Christ and His appearances, which were delightfully shocking in themselves, He spoke words to Mary in the garden which were equally as shocking as His appearance.
“…go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
Throughout the gospel of John, the emphasis had been made that Jesus was singularly unique because of His heavenly authority that had been granted by the Father, and that He had been sent as an emissary of the Father. [Aside: search for the word “Father” in the gospel of John, and see how many times Jesus alludes to the supremacy of His relationship with God the Father.] And then, after the resurrection, He astounded Mary and the disciples with this truth — they have the same Father! They have the same eternal security, they have Christ as their brother, they have the same indwelling Spirit. They do — and so do all believers!
Further, by not only being allowed, but encouraged to call Him “Father,” God demonstrates that He has a Son-like love for us. Not only are we called His sons, but we are His sons (1 Jn. 3:1). No longer is there a love that needs to be earned, or an angry father to be appeased. As believers in Christ, we are eternally secure in His love for us, content that His wrath has forever been appeased by Christ’s work on the cross.
So on Father’s Day, whether you are sad or glad, let this be your deep satisfaction and joy — God in heaven, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace, He is your Father! You are completely secure in His unchanging love. He delights in your fellowship and in giving abundantly all that you need (be sure to understand that your great need is for spiritual food not refrigerator food). He is your Father.
Sermons on fatherhood worth hearing…
- Alistair Begg, “Redirecting Our Families” (a number of very helpful sermons about fatherhood and manhood are on the website http://www.cbmw.org).
- Alistair Begg, “Missing in Action: The Failure of Men in the Modern Church”
- Al Mohler, “Being Men, Raising Men”
- Al Mohler, “The Seduction of Marriage and the Integrity of Christian Marriage” (manuscript)
- John Piper “Marriage Is Meant for Making Children…Disciples of Jesus” (part two of that sermon was preached today and should be posted within a day or two).
Something about fatherhood and manhood worth reading…