Jesus, the Way to the Father - John 14:1-14 (NLT)
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
I should start out by saying I have no unique perspective on fathers or being a father. I am a father, of course, but as I reflect back in my changing role as father to my two children, in their early twenties now, I only understand that what it means to be a father will continue to change. For me, now, it's a lot less changing diapers and a lot more "can I have some money?"! Being a father is trying at times, especially since we are usually placed in the role of the disciplinarian, and there is a certain age range when your children definitely don't want to be seen with you. But it is all worth it for those memories of special times spent together and those unexpected moments when your child shows his or her love for you.
I also reflect on the fathers in my life - my biological father, who raised me, but also those men in my life who had a major impact on who I am as a person and father.
My father was in the armed forces and was a fairly strict disciplinarian. But he also had a wonderful sense of humor and taught me how to fish. My best memories with him are of fishing for smallmouth bass in Crystal Lake.
My grandfather, Grampy, who was a carpenter. He was a quiet man and I spent a lot of time with him in his garage, watching him build things.
A Baptist youth minister who led me to Christ when I was a teenager.
My high school science teacher was someone who helped me get beyond being a teenager and see the potential in life.
My Uncle George who took me in for a week each summer at Newfound Lake, where he was the State Park Manager. It was there with him that I made the decision to become a lake scientist.
A local man who was instrumental in our moving to the Adirondacks. He helped me to grow as a businessman and served as a wonderful role model on how to be a father.
The bible doesn’t provide much direct guidance specific to being a father. Most of its mention of "father" is in reference to God the Father. There is, however:
Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21 NLTse
The Book of Proverbs is full of advice to children regarding their father, but again there isn't much direct guidance imparted to us as fathers. There are such pearls as:
Listen to your father, who gave you life, Proverbs 23:22Or the ominous:
A foolish child* is a calamity to a father; Proverbs 19:13
If you insult your father or mother,
your light will be snuffed out in total darkness. Proverbs 20:20
We do, however, have Proverbs Chapter 4: A Father's Wise Advice
My children,* listen when your father corrects you.
Pay attention and learn good judgment,
for I am giving you good guidance. Don't turn away from my instructions.
For I, too, was once my father's son, tenderly loved as my mother's only child.
My father taught me, "Take my words to heart.
Follow my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom; develop good judgment.
Don't forget my words or turn away from them.
Don't turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
If you prize wisdom, she will make you great.
Embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will place a lovely wreath on your head;
she will present you with a beautiful crown."
My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life.
I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths.
Being a disciple is much like being a father. We plant a seed, nurture it and pray that it grows well and fruits productively. The advantage for the father is he gets to see the fruits of his labor, while the disciple may plant a seed that takes root at a time and place beyond his or her knowing. Nonetheless, we should continue to plant those seeds.
As fathers, we are a link in the chain of life, father to son, father to son. A father starts out providing maintenance: helping to feed and clean and nurture the young child. Later, a father provides discipline, a framework of right and wrong. Then, the father becomes the mentor, teaching by example and sharing life lessons. And, hopefully, if you've done everything well enough, a father becomes a refuge, a safe haven. Being a father therefore is much like our relationship with God, our Father. There are trials and tribulations. But great rewards.
So it is with our Father God. Before we know Him, He provides prevenient grace, guiding us, waiting for us to grow, feeding and nurturing us. Through disciplines of study, worship and prayer, we come to know right and wrong, how to live our lives. We are thus mentored and grow. And we continue that cycle, passing Him onto others.
I will leave you with this short verse:
Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn't we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?* Hebrews 12:9 NLTse
Happy Father’s Day.
Michael R. Martin June 15, 2014 First UMC of Saranac Lake, 8:30AM