Christ, Advent, Isaiah
One of the most unique relationships in life is that of a Father with his children. Dads tend to be tough on the outside but are almost always tender on the inside when it comes to their kids. Dads ache when their children ache, they feel a sense of pride when their children excel and will do anything in their power to help their kids accomplish what they want to accomplish.
I realize that some Fathers are not this way. Some fathers see their children as an inconvenience. Some are more harsh than soft. I know some people feel they have worked hard all their life but cannot do anything to please their dads. I know those people exist, but they really are the exception rather than the rule.
I draw your attention to the relationship that a Father has with his children because the next title of Jesus that we examine is the title, “Everlasting Father”. The first title, “Wonderful Counselor” was a title that reminded us of the Savior’s incredible wisdom and competency. The second title, “Mighty God” reminded us of our Savior’s power and His ability to fulfill His promises and meet our needs. And in this title we see the compassion and love of our Savior.
It is easy to get sidetracked when we talk about Jesus as the “everlasting father”. How can the Son be the Father? As soon as you ask that question you step into the minefield that we like to call the doctrine of the Trinity. Scripture affirms that there is one God who is manifest in three distinct and separate “persons” or personalities: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father. But they are all one God!
Jesus is not called Everlasting Father because there is confusion about the nature of God the Father and God the Son. Jesus is called the everlasting Father because of His father-like qualities. He is still God the Son, but His love and grace is like that of a Father with his children. Charles Spurgeon writes,
How complex is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ! Almost in the same breath the prophet calls him a “child,” and a “counsellor,” a “son,” and “the everlasting Father.” This is no contradiction, and to us scarcely a paradox, but it is a mighty marvel that he who was an infant should at the same time be infinite, he who was the Man of Sorrows should also be God over all, blessed for ever; and that he who is in the Divine Trinity always called the Son, should nevertheless be correctly called “the everlasting Father.” How forcibly this should remind us of the necessity of carefully studying and rightly understanding the person of our Lord Jesus Christ! We must not suppose that we shall understand him at a glance. A look will save the soul, but patient meditation alone can fill the mind with the knowledge of the Savior. Glorious mysteries are hidden in his person. He speaks to us in plainest language, and he manifests himself openly in our midst, but yet in his person itself there is a height and depth which human intellect fails to measure. (Metropolitan Pulpit Vol. 12 p. 838)
Notice four things from this title.
HE HAS GIVEN US LIFE
Our biological father is the one who united with our mother and gave us physical life. I know, that you may consider your “dad” (or the one who nurtured and supported you) as someone different from your biological father. But, generally speaking, a Father gives us life.
Jesus is our Everlasting Father in the sense that He is the one who brings us to spiritual life. In John 14:6 Jesus told us that “no man comes to the Father, except through Him”. We are new creatures in and because of Christ. It is because of Jesus that we have the opportunity to know eternal life. It is because of Jesus that we can know a new and life-giving relationship with the Father.
Paul wrote to Titus,
Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us.But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. (Titus 3:2-7 NLT).
Charles Swindoll relates a story that draws us an appropriate picture of what Christ has done,
Eight-year-old Monica broke her leg as she fell into a pit. An older woman, Mama Njeri, happened along and climbed into the pit to help get Monica out. In the process, a dangerous black Mamba snake bit both Mama Njeri and Monica. Monica was taken to Kejave Medical Center and admitted. Mama Njeri went home, but never awoke from her sleep. The next day a perceptive missionary nurse explained Mama Njeri’s death to Monica, telling her that the snake had bitten both of them, but all of the snake’s poison was expended on Mama Njeri; none was given to Monica. The nurse then explained that Jesus had taken the poison of Monica’s sin so that she could have new life. It was an easy choice for Monica. She then received Jesus as Savior and Lord on the spot.
Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories, electronic ed., Logos Library System;Swindoll leadership library (Nashville: Word Publishers, 2000, c1998).
Jesus makes the spiritual life possible. He gives us an appetite for the things of Heaven. It is Christ and Christ alone who makes it possible for,
- a rebel to be brought to faith
- a criminal to be turned in a new direction
- a professed atheist to become a believer
- an adherent of a false religion to be persuaded of the truthfulness of the gospel
- a person who seems to have everything see that they have nothing apart from Christ
- a religious person to stop trusting their own goodness and start trusting His
Jesus is the one who gives us new life.
HE PROVIDES FOR US
One of the synonyms for a good Father is a “provider”. We certainly live in a day and age when the family income is often divided equally between a mother and father but still the emphasis seems to be on dad’s ability to provide for the home. Every good father wants to provide for his family. He wants to provide a good home, good food, adequate clothing, and as many opportunities for growth as possible.
As a Good Father, our Lord provides for us too. The apostle Paul wrote, “ And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19) Last week I argued that the name “Mighty God” showed that our Lord was able to fulfill His promises and to meet our needs. Knowing that Jesus is the everlasting Father, shows us that he is not only ABLE to meet these needs . . . He is also WILLING to meet them. He provides what we need for eternal life. But we He also provides for us in many other ways.
- He provides the words for tough situations
- He provides the guidance we need for tough decisions
- He provides the comfort we need in times of heartbreak
- He provides the clothing, food, and support we need
- He provides opportunities for us to make a real difference in life
- He provides people who will stand alongside us and teach us
- He answers our prayers and provides healing for our diseases
- He opens our minds to spiritual truth
- He gives us strength when we feel we can’t go on
Our everlasting Father provides for our every need.
HE CARES ABOUT US
A Father shows his care surprisingly by the discipline He dispenses. An uncaring parent provides no boundaries. They don’t know where their children are, or care what their children are doing. Often a parent is seen as mean or unfeeling because they refuse to give a child everything they want, or because they will not erase the consequences of a child’s foolish behavior (like making them pay for the broken window, or refusing to bail them out of jail until the next morning). But in truth, it is only the loving parents who WILL take these kinds of stands. It is much easier to just give in . . . it is harder to see the big picture.
A good parent will set limits and will help a child learn to budget their time and their resources and will also help them to manage their desires. A good parent will seek to teach a child about decisions and consequences while those decisions and consequences are small. A good parent will teach a child about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
It is the same way with our Lord. The Bible reminds us that those the Lord loves, He disciplines. (See Hebrews 12:5-11). Discipline is too often seen as synonymous with punishment. However it is better to see discipline as synonymous with involvement and love. God cares enough about us to get involved in leading and directing our lives. He takes an interest in developing our character.
- We may see God’s delays as indifference but God may be simply waiting for the right time.
- We may see the trials of life as proof that everything happens by chance but in reality those trials may be God’s attempt to teach us to stand by faith.
- We may see the struggles of our lives as a sign that God doesn’t love us, when it is more likely that God is weaning our hearts from the things of the world so that we can enjoy His love more fully.
A Father also shows His care by the prayers He prays. There is nothing that drives a person to pray more than having children. It’s not that children drive their parents crazy (most of the time) it’s that a parent realizes that they cannot be with and protect their children all the time. They turn to the one who can protect them and walk with them always.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is constantly interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25). This is a nice picture but I must admit that I find it a bit confusing. Jesus is God. He is in Heaven with the Father. Why would He have to “pray”? I think this is one of those times when the Bible draws us a picture that reveals God’s character. I think we are supposed to see that our Lord has that same kind of intense concern for our lives that a parent shows in their prayers.
The Lord is committed to our growth and our protection. He is committed to us. He is in Heaven, but He has not forgotten us. He has made a sacrifice for our sin but He is not content to leave things at that. Our Lord is deeply invested in our lives. I think that is what we are supposed to get from the phrase, “He is always living to make intercession for us.”
AND THESE THINGS WILL BE TRUE FOREVER
A parent will always love their child. No matter what a child does a parent loves them. I believe that even in cases when a parent and child seem to lose their relationship, I believe deep down what that parent wants more than anything else is a restored relationship with their child. Our relationship with our children changes over the years but our love does not waver. It is no easier to see your adult child suffer than it is to see an infant suffer.
Jesus is called the Everlasting Father because His love will never end. In Romans 8:35-39 we are asked the question
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Bible tells us that the Savior loved us before the creation of the earth. In fact, it was His love for us that brought Him to earth and led Him to the cross. He loved us in spite of what we had done. His commitment to us is sure.
A loving parent may not like everything their child does. In fact, it is certain that a loving parent will not like all the decisions and choices their child makes. But they continue to love their child. In the same way there are things that believers do that do not please the Father. In these times He does not condone our actions. He will take action against our sin and rebellion . . . .but He does not stop loving those who belong to Him.
You may feel that you deserve for God to cast you away. You may be so ashamed of what you have done that you wonder if He could ever love you again. He can. He has never stopped loving you. Turn from your sin and like the Prodigal son . . .return to the One who has been waiting with open arms.
To wrap things up let me draw three conclusions. First, it is important to remember that He is the Everlasting Father only to those who are part of His family in Christ. The notion of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal Brotherhood of man sounds nice but it is not Biblical. The Bible tells us quite clearly that those who will not trust God are enemies of God. They are called children of the Devil and not children of the Everlasting Father.
Consequently, it is essential that we ask ourselves the important question: “What family do I belong to?” If you have not placed all of your confidence for salvation in what Christ has done for you, if you have not entrusted the Lord with your life, then you are part of the Devil’s family. But you don’t have to stay there! The Lord is willing to adopt you into His family . . . just like He has done for so many of us here. It takes a simple act of true belief. If you will stop running away and instead turn toward Him, then you will be saved. Please do that today.
Second, we need to remember that the fact that He is the everlasting Father means that we must never think of our Lord in the past tense. We must not think of Him as the one who “once lived”. He still lives! He is the “everlasting father”. Other religions have a faith built on a past relationship . . . we build our faith on a present relationship with Christ. He is not just our Savior in the past but He is also the one who guides us and cares for us in the present.
Do you see how easily this happens at Christmas. We tell the stories of history and talk about the time centuries ago when Jesus lived on earth. The times were different and it is easy to conclude that these things are great facts . . . but that is all they are, just old dusty facts. These accounts are indeed past events. At Christmas we do talk about history. But we are not JUST talking about history. Our focus is on what those historical events mean to our present spiritual reality. Because of what happened in Bethlehem, on Calvary, and at the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea we now have apresent relationship with God. Christmas is worth celebrating because it changed the way we live TODAY.
Finally, when we find ourselves questioning the events in our lives we need to remember that He is the everlasting Father. He may allow us to struggle because He knows it is our good. He may stand back on occasion to see how we will handle certain situations. But He will never abandon us. He will never allow us to be destroyed. He is our shield, He is our Rock, and He loves us like only a Father can.