Do you know of more words that provoke a wider range of responses than the word “father”? Simply saying the word “dad” can make one person feel honor and love, or make another person angry and bitter.
For me personally, I was blessed with a great dad who loved God, loved my mom, and taught me to love and appreciate the church. He never taught me how to change my own oil, but with modern engines that’s about impossible these days anyway …
When I mention fathers and dads, you have similar feelings towards your father. For others, what are you thinking?
— My dad was never really there for me.
— My dad never paid any attention to me.
— My dad never showed me any affection.
— Truth is, not all human fathers lived up to expectations of children.
We are living in a day and age where many people did not – or do not – have healthy relationships with their fathers. The effects of absentee fathers are all around us.
Yet, what does each of us long for? We long for a healthy and intimate relationship with someone we can call father. Depending on our circumstances, we are either delighted or distressed by what we have.
This Christmas season, we are working our way through four titles that the Old Testament prophet Isaiah gave to Jesus. The first two were Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God.
But today’s title touches something within us that those two can’t – our need for someone called Father.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. — Isaiah 9:6-7
Not everyone in Isaiah’s day saw God as an “Everlasting Father.”
What they did see was a religious system filled with lots of rules and rituals that had created a great distance between themselves and God.
What impression did these barriers create? God himself was distant.
Hold that thought for a moment. While many of you have fond memories of your father, others of you don’t share those experiences. You might remember detachment, abuse, or desertion.
But in Jesus we find an everlasting father. It can be literally translated as “Forever Father.”
As a Father, he is loving, self-sacrificing, always looking out for your best. Because he is Forever, he will always be loving, sacrificing, and compassionate towards you.
What do you get when you mashup Everlasting Father with the first two titles? You get a Wonderful Counselor who will always give you the best counsel and a Mighty God who has the power to carry out his plans.
That is what a Forever Father looks like.
Contrast this with another father that is mentioned in the Bible.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus gets into an argument with his Jewish audience about whether or not they were truly descendants of Abraham.
Some of you could care less about lineage or ancestry. When you shake your family tree, you have to watch out for falling nuts.
But it really mattered to the Jewish people. Maybe you’ve heard the term “Father Abraham.” That’s where it comes from. The Jews were proud they could call Abraham their father.
This was the problem. Jesus said if Abraham were truly your father, you would act more like Abraham. That prompted this response …
41 “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. — John 8:41-44
Jesus is describing what kind of father the Devil makes:
— This father does not care about the well-being of his children.
— Human life is cheap and expendable to this father.
— Truth is the first casualty of any relationship with this father.
— Lies are the true offspring of this father.
We each were born into a world where the influence of this father is real.
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. — Ephesians 2:1-3
But because God is our Everlasting Father, and because Jesus came to reveal the true nature of our Everlasting Father, we are able to have a relationship with God.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. — Ephesians 2:4-5
What does Jesus want you to know?
He wants you to know that God is not mad at you. He is mad about you.
When it comes to biology, you are not able to choose your father. When it comes to spirituality, you have a choice. You can choose the father who will lie to you. Or you can choose an Everlasting Father who loves you and wants what is best for you.
My hope is that you will choose an Everlasting Father.