Let’s listen closely to some things Jesus said about himself and His Father.
- “What you see me doing, is what I’ve seen my Father doing. What you hear me saying, is what I’ve heard my Father say.”
- “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen my Father.”
- “As the Father has loved you, so have I loved you.”
- “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they be one as we are one. I have made you known to them in order that the love you have for me may be in them.”
The Heavenly Father was the center of Jesus’ life. When asked who his father was, he replied, “God is my father.” When his disciples asked how to pray, he answered, “Our Father in Heaven….” When he isn’t with the crowd, he has slipped away to be with his Father for an evening, a night, or before daylight. As a young boy, he told his parents, “I have to be about my Father’s business.” As an adult reiterated saying, “I have come from my Father to do His will.” Facing Gethsemane he held the line, “Nevertheless not my will, but your will be done.” Jesus knew, adored, and loved His Father. Clearly, he hoped we would too.
The Bible says followers of Jesus preach “Jesus and him crucified.” If asked why, most will respond, “Is it so men can be saved.” While this is totally true, I have to ask on the behalf of the non-religious, “What do these mean?” What is meant by “Jesus came to save the lost?” In fact, what is meant by “the lost?” It is clear to those of us familiar with the jargon, but we should clarify for others (even for ourselves) because God’s ultimate hopes can be lost in the fog of religious language. Defining lostness as separation or distance moves us toward clarity. Understanding that salvation is the removal of that distance is helpful. But Salvation is more. Being saved goes beyond our rescue from what separated us from the Father, it also involves Divine help in uniting us to Him. The terms fellowship, relationship, community, intimacy, experiential knowledge stretch to express the near-inexpressable hope the Father has for us. Perhaps men were designed to be fathers to help us grasp, in some small way, this deep and filling closeness with our Heavenly Father that was Jesus’ life. Jesus called this extraterrestrial relationship “eternal life.” He described it as “a life more abundant” meaning a life that doesn’t lack, fail, or end, and he explained, “This is the life that doesn’t fail; that they may know you, the only true God….”
Fathers are a child’s template of the Heavenly Father! Fatherhood is a terribly high and powerful calling, and a man who doesn’t know the Heavenly Father is left to guess at his role. With a flawed template, boys struggle to know the Heavenly Father, how to be a dad, a husband, or a man. Because a man learns manhood from a man and fathering from a father, all men must live near, listen to, learn from, and experience life with the Father in Heaven to model lovingly good fatherhood on earth. Jesus invites, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. Come. Learn from me. I am the way to the Father.”
(Scripture references have been paraphrased for clarity. SLM)