Sunday, June 21, 2009

God Is Our Father In His Son Jesus Christ

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 21, 2009
Mark 4.35-41

The festival of Pentecost is the festival of the Holy Spirit. And the Nativity of Our Lord, Good Friday, and the Resurrection of Our Lord are high festivals of Jesus. But is there a special festival of God the Father? The Church Year is designed around salvation history centered in the life of Christ. There is only one God, of course, and the Triune God is at work when the Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father are individually at work. But that God shows Himself to work in distinct ways in the distinct Persons of the Godhead shows us that it’s more than just an interesting phenomenon. His work as Father, His work as Son, His work as Holy Spirit mean things for us and our salvation. Since today is Father’s Day, it’s as good a day as any to examine the work of God the Father and what that means for us.

But the Gospel reading shows us the work of God the Son, Jesus Christ. It also show us, however, the work of God the Father. The Father is not mentioned, but His work is accomplished in the Gospel reading. As in everything He does Jesus is carrying out the will of His Heavenly Father. But in a specific sense, Jesus’ action brings about exactly what God was saying to Job in the Old Testament reading: “Or who shut in the sea with doors… and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?”

God is speaking to Job of His work of creation. He tells Job of it for the purpose of making known His work of re-creation. The God who is the Creator of the earth and the seas is the God who re-creates. He restores His fallen creation. In the Gospel reading the disciples need immediate salvation. Jesus saves them by exhibiting His power over His very own creation. He brings about the very thing God the Father stated to Job, what He did at creation and what God the Son is doing now in the boat. Just as at creation the seas came into existence at the speaking of His Word, now the waves halt at the speaking of His Word. Just as He set boundaries for them at creation, so now He stops them in their tracks.

Upon seeing this display of power the disciples are afraid. Who is this? Who is this who commands even the wind and waves to obey Him? He is the very creator of the wind and the waves. And He’s the Savior. When God the Father spoke to Job about the salvation He would accomplish, His work of re-creation, He had in mind the giving of His only-begotten Son. The power God exhibited to Job in coming out of the whirlwind was nothing compared to the re-creating, saving work of giving up His Son. The power Jesus exhibited in stilling the storm was a cloak, the ultimate exhibition of His power coming in giving Himself up on the cross—power over the forces of sin, death, and the devil.

This is where we see how God the Father is who we need to look to in order to obey the Fourth Commandment—Honor your father and your mother. It’s where we see how those who are fathers learn what it means to be a godly father. Honoring our father and being a faithful father is possible in God the Father’s giving of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Can a person honor their father if he is not a Christian? Yes, they can. And not only that, they must. God gives you your father. If he’s not a Christian the highest way you honor him is to pray for him and speak the Gospel to him so that he may know the eternal love of the Heavenly Father. Is it hard at times to honor your Christian father because he falls short at times as a father? Yes, but the Fourth Commandment isn’t dependent on how good of a father you have.

And how is a Christian man who is a father to be a faithful father, exhibiting the love of God the Father, when he himself continually falls short of exhibiting unconditional love; when he himself is every much of a sinner as his children? Only by and through the love of his Heavenly Father as exhibited in His Son Jesus Christ. A father’s children are commanded to honor him, but a father must wake up each morning and strive to live in such a way that it is a joy for his children to honor him.

How do we do these things? Through the love of God the Father in Jesus Christ. The love of God the Father is not a generic love. It is not simply that He loves us. It is His specific grace and mercy toward us in His Son Jesus Christ. You honor your father because of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That is how God the Father loved you. How much more, then, can you honor your father? You are a faithful father when you love your children with the full and free forgiveness your Heavenly Father has given to you and your children.

God told Job that He had created the universe. He then pointed him toward the greatest of all His power and work, His work of re-creation. It is His work in giving His Son. We see that work being brought about in the Gospel reading. God the Father is at work there on the lake, in the boat, in the stilling of the storm. He loves His creation, He loves His children. That’s why He gave His Son. This is how we can live each new day as obedient children of our earthly father, how we fathers can love our children not simply with our own love but the eternal love we ourselves have received.

This week dozens of children will be roaming the halls and rooms of our church for VBS. Some are here every week. Some attend their own church. Some will be hearing the Gospel for the first time. All are in need of it, though, just as we all are. May our prayer be that each one of them hears that Gospel and receives the blessing promised through it, the forgiveness of their sins. May our prayer be that the father of each one doesn’t simply send them here for the week but daily blesses them with the love of the Heavenly Father in His Son Jesus Christ. That each father loves his children by reading the Word of God to them, praying with them, bringing them to God’s House each week to be renewed in the gracious presence of the Triune God and His never-ending love for them.

May this prayer be for us as well. When your dad would rather spend time doing his own thing rather than be with you, his child, honor him. Do not despise or anger him, but honor him, serve and obey him, love and cherish him. Forgive him, he’s a sinner just like you are. And why should you honor him even in those times he’s not faithfully carrying out his duties as a father? Because of the love God the Father has for him and for you. Because He sent His own Son to forgive him and you.

When you as a father provoke your children, repent and ask for forgiveness. Pray your Heavenly Father to give you the strength and selflessness you need to be a godly father to your children, loving them as your Heavenly Father has loved them and you—in His Son, Jesus Christ.

As Christians we cannot talk about honoring our fathers and about being godly fathers apart from Jesus Christ. We must look to God the Father to know how we are able to honor our fathers and to be godly fathers. In the same way, we cannot talk about God’s love apart from the love of God the Father in His Son Jesus Christ. Receive gratefully the care of your earthly father, the food and home he provides. Fathers, feed your children not only daily bread but also God’s Word. Your Heavenly Father gives you His own Son in the Gospel and in His Son’s Holy Supper. You love with this love He has loved you with, love in His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent sermon!