Knowing the Father

June 16, 2013

I officially declare today the first day
of summer, at least for 2013.  For no
other reason than today I start my summer preaching series, which wouldn’t
really work if it was still spring. 
This summer our theme will be “A Red
Letter Summer”  and if you are wondering
what that means it’s really pretty simple. 
In most bibles that are printed today, if you flip to the gospels, and
the revelation you will discover that some, not all but a lot, of the words are
printed in red.  And those are the words
of Christ.  The term Red Letter meaning
something important first came from the practice of printing the dates for Holy
Days on Calendars in red.  The first
record of this is found in a book written by William Caxton is 1490 where it
says, “We wryte yet in oure kalenders the hyghe festes
wyth rede lettres of coloure of purpre.” 
Obviously Bill learned to spell with Hooked on
Phonics.
The idea of printing the words of Christ
in Red came from Louis Klopsch who was an editor of the Christian Herald
Magazine.  The first Red Letter New
Testament was published in 1899 and the first Red Letter Bible was published 2
years later.  And it caught on.  Many of those who use the King James Version
find it useful because the King James doesn’t use quotation marks.   
A few years ago a group started that
called themselves “Red-Letter Christians”. 
Proponents of the movement decided that both the far right and left of
Christianity was exploiting the New Testament for their political agendas a
response they have endeavored to create an evangelical movement that focuses on
the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly in regard to social issues.
However if we truly believe that the
whole Bible is the inspired word of God then we can’t simply lop off the parts
we don’t like.  So in highlighting some
of the red letter portions of the Gospels we aren’t saying that these are more
important than the words that you might 
read from other portions of the New Testament, but they are the words of
Jesus. 
So where to start?  It has been interesting as we’ve been looking
at the summer preaching schedule with the staff to see where each of them is
planning on going with this series on the dates they are scheduled to
speak.  Most of us have a particular red
letter passage that is our favorite. 
Whether it be “For God so Love the World”, “Suffer the little children
to come to me” or “You must be born again.”   
So many scriptures, so little time. 
So where do we start?
Well that was easy, it is Father’s day
and time and time again Jesus refers to God as Father.  And he tells us that we should approach God
as our heavenly Father, in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus even tells us that when we
address God we should call him Father. 
And that was a departure because for thousands of years the Jews had maintained that
God’s name was too holy to use, and He was some distant deity way out there
somewhere that we couldn’t relate to who certainly couldn’t relate to us and
that we didn’t communicate with directly. To the Jews of Jesus’ day there had
to be an intermediary, you went to the priest and they in turn offered
sacrifices on your behalf to God. 
You ever try to
connect with someone through a middle man? And it just wasn’t happening?  You know you really had to talk to someone but
first you had to go through a receptionist, or secretary or maybe an
operator. 
And into this
setting comes Jesus who says “Hey, when you pray you need to start by calling
God by His name which is Father!”
The problem is that
in order for this to work we need to have a decent view of our father.  If your concept of a father is someone who is
abusive or distant then this isn’t the best illustrative device. Dads don’t
always get the greatest press, and for obvious reasons, you only have to watch
the news or read the paper to realize that some fathers aren’t the nicest
people around.
When we were in Australia
we met a Christian singer by the name of Peter Shirley and he sang a song
called “WOULD YOU REALLY MIND”:
“When I
was just a child, I didn’t
understand
Why my
father left my mother with the waving of a hand. 
He told me it was best this way, but
I couldn’t figure why.
The solution to the problem made my mother cry. 
Lord I find it hard to call
you father,
My
memories aren’t real fond of the father that I
had,
LORD I find it hard to call
you father, but would you really mind,
Would
you really mind if I just called
you friend.
I know this may be selfish, I
know this may be wrong. 
But I’m not sure my father
loves me, I haven’t seen him for
so long.
Lord you’re so much more to me than the father that I knew,
I know that you won’t leave me; your love will see me through.
Lord help me to understand, and ease this pain inside. 
And help me to forgive, my father’s human side. 
Unite us with your spirit, though in flesh we’re torn apart.
And take away this bitterness that’s wrapped around my heart.”
Somehow, what Jesus
meant when he referred to father isn’t necessarily the same association that
some people make now when they think of their father.  He’s saying light you’re thinking dark, he’s
thinking protective you’re thinking abusive. 
You see, when you’ve
been physically or sexually abused by your father, when he drank the family’s
food away or constantly berated you and told you that you were no good.  When the memory of your father, makes you
angry or brings tears to your eyes then it’s going to be really difficult for
you to feel good about embracing a God who is called father. 
You may not even
feel like you could pray to someone called father.  You might share Lord
Chesterfield’s feelings when he said “As
fathers commonly go, it is seldom a misfortune to be fatherless; and
considering the general run of sons, as seldom a misfortune to be childless.”
The problem with our
language is that we define it by our own experiences.  We can both be talking English, using the
same words but thinking totally different things.  If we are talking about cars and the subject
turns to Oldsmobiles I would immediately think of my favourite car which was a
1971 Cutlass Supreme convertible that I owned when I was eighteen.  But if your experience with General Motors
products in general and Oldmobiles in particular has been bad, like perhaps you
owned a 1982 Firenza then you would be thinking entirely different thoughts
then I would.  And for good reasons.
And so the picture
that comes to mind when Jesus says “Father” may be completely different than
the picture that comes to my mind.  And I
have a great Dad, but even with that he can’t be compared to my heavenly
father.
This morning let’s go back to
the scripture that we started with Luke 10:22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows
the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and
those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Jesus tells us that
we need to approach God as Father, but that will only work if we understand how
Jesus viewed his Father.  Jesus said, “No
one truly knows the Father except the Son.” 
But he didn’t stop there he goes on to say “and those to whom the Son
chooses to reveal him.”
So, the question is:
To whom does the son choose to reveal the father?  And the answer would be those who want to
discover the Father.  Because as you read
the Jesus story we read the description of the Father’s character from the Son
himself.    
And so the only way
that we can know what Jesus meant when he referred to His Father is to look at
other times that he used the term father and what it says about his concept of
a father because remember he’s talking about his view of father not ours.
John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son . . .1) Jesus Knew the Love of the Father  Jesus
didn’t have to wonder if his father loved him, it wasn’t a “maybe” or an “if”
statement, he knew it, it was fact not theory. 
If you look through the parables, the stories Jesus told, you find that
the Father is always the good guy.  He’s
the one who takes the prodigal son back, he’s the one who gives his children
the very best, he’s the one who defends his children. 
In other words
whenever Jesus uses a father as an illustrative device it is in a positive
sense.  Unlike television where dad is
usually the idiot on the show.
We may not know
where we stand with our earthly father either because he hasn’t verbalized his
love for us or because his actions negate his words, but that won’t be a
problem with our heavenly father. 
Hopefully your kids
know that you love them, and they need to hear you say it, hopefully this song
couldn’t be written about any of us.
Jesus tell us in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and
only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal
life.  I know the world is a big
place and sometimes when we think of  God’s
love divided 6 billion ways it doesn’t seem like we get a very big slice of the
pie, but reality is that God’s love doesn’t divide like a pizza, not only does
every believer get the same size piece but each piece is the same size as the
sum of the total.  In other words God’s
love divided by 6 billion remains God’s love, not 1/6,000,000,000 of God’s
love.  Jesus reminds us of his Father’s
love for us as believers in John 16:27 for the Father
himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.
What type of love is
it that God has for us?  Listen to what
Jesus best friend John said, 1 John 3:1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his
children, and that is what we are!   We
are his children, he is our parent, and not just any parent he is a perfect
parent, a parent who loves us.
So what do you
think?  Think you could embrace a Father
who loved you enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for you?
The first time we
see the relationship between Jesus and his Heavenly Father is in Matthew 3:17 and it happened at the beginning of Jesus
public ministry, right after John had baptized Jesus, he comes up from the
Jordan river and we pick up the story in Matthew 3:17 And a voice
from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
2) Jesus
Knew the Affirmation of the Father.
Jesus concept of father was someone who bragged on his kids.  I’m 53 years old and it still thrills me
right down to my toes to find out that Dad has been bragging me up.  Maybe that’s not something that you can
identify with, maybe you can’t remember your dad ever bragging on you with but
it’s the reality of God our father.  Time
and time again Jesus spoke about the worth that God has attributed to us, as
his children. 
Jesus had no doubt that his
Father was in his corner and never had to wonder what his father thought of
him.  John 6:27 For God the Father has given me the seal
of his approval.”
Maybe your earthly father has never told
you he thought you were doing a great job, maybe he never said that he was
proud of you, but upon your Heavenly Father’s lips are the words “Well done my
good and faithful servant.”
So what do you
think?  Think you could embrace a Father
who affirmed you and thought you were the greatest thing since sliced bread.
And Dad’s you need
to affirm your kids.  I have a friend who
used to say that we get our children as empty buckets and it’s up to us to fill
those buckets with good things.  Way to
go, you’re awesome, I love you so much, you are the best kid in the world.
Matthew 26:53 Don’t you realize that I could ask
my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them
instantly?  I love this particular portion of the
Bible.  Jesus is being arrested and Peter
pulls out a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the guys in the mob.  Now personally I think Peter is maligned here
because I really don’t think that Peter was actually trying to cut off the guy’s
ear.  He was trying to cut off the guy’s
head and just had a rotten aim, and Jesus tells Peter to put the sword away and
then he makes that statement. In other translations it says Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once
put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 
A legion was a
military term which actually referred to a large unit of infantry numbering up
to 6,000 men.  All Jesus had to do was
say sic em and 72,000 angels with attitude would have been all over those guys,
like down on a duck.  You see 3) Jesus
Knew the Protection of the Father
Every once in a
while you need a really good quote from Freud, and I feel that coming on Sigmund Freud said “I
cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s
protection.”
Jesus knew that his Father was in his corner, that all he had to do was
say the word and his father would be there for him. 
Not only that but Jesus knew that His Father who is also our Father
would be there for us as well listen to his prayer in the book of John 17:11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this
world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now
protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we
are.
Does that mean
nothing will ever go wrong and that you are safe from the consequences of your
actions?  Not at all, but it does mean
that our Father will always be there to hold us and comfort us.  It does mean that Satan has no power over our
lives as children of God, unless we allow him to have that power over us. 
Sometimes as much as
my dad wanted to protect me from life and all that could go wrong there were
times that by my actions I removed myself from Dad’s protection. 
We talked about this
before, the reason God gave us his word, the reason God gives us rules and
regulation and guidelines isn’t because he’s a spoil sport and doesn’t want us
to have any fun, they are there to protect us, not just from physical harm, but
from emotional harm and spiritual harm as well. 
Just like when our
fathers told us, “Don’t play on the street, don’t tease the dog and if you keep
poking your sister she’s going to smack you.”
God wants to protect us, but he won’t
take away our free will to do it. 
We all want to protect our
kids, but if we decided that in order to do that we would lock them up and
never let them out of their room.  While
that might be effective in protecting them society would take a dim view of it
and ultimately it would backfire as they became resentful.  Instead we try to teach them to make good
choices and hope and pray for the best. 
Which is why the bible teaches
us in Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are
older, they will not leave it.   By
the way, proverbs aren’t guarantees, what they are is statements of common
sense or general truth.  Solomon is
saying that if you want your children to stay on the right path when they are
older then you need to show them that path and start them on that path when
they are younger.  
God could do that, he could lock us by
taking away our free will.  Instead he
shows us the right path, through his word and through the preaching of his
word.  He wants to protect you, but when
you step outside those boundaries and say “I don’t need you or your rules” then
you’re paddling your own canoe. 
So what do you think?  Do you think you could embrace a Father who was
in your corner and who was always ready to protect you?
So if you’ve never experienced
the love, encouragement and protection of God the Father it is available to you
today.  Jesus told his followers John 14:6 Jesus told him,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except
through me.
You come to the
Father by entrusting your life to the Son. 
And what better day to come to the Father than on Father’s Day.