There is one title for God that is repeated in the Gospels 189 times. And that title is simply this: Father. More than anything else, more than any other concept of God, Jesus majored on the fact that God was a Father. “Father” was always Jesus’ special way of referring to God. He said, “My Father,” “our Father,” “your Father,” and just plain “Father.”
In fact, do you remember something? The first words Jesus ever utters in the chronology of His life occur in the temple. His parents had begun their journey home. He’s only 12. They notice in the entourage that He isn’t there. They go back, and they say, in effect, “What are you doing here, son.”
Do you remember what He said? “Don’t you know I must be about My Father’s business?”
“Father” was ever and always the theme of Jesus’ teaching about God.
Dr. H. R. Mackintosh said this in his book The Doctrine of the Person of Christ: “The recurrence of the sweet and deep name Father unveils the secret of His being.”
Jesus taught us that our prayer is to begin, “Our Father.” So did His prayer begin in John 17.
What did Jesus teach us about the fatherhood of God? Look at John 5:17-24. I believe that, in this passage, Jesus presents five qualities of the Father that, in my mind, set the standard for fatherhood. Listen, God did not get His title of Father from a human analogy. Man gets his definition of father from God. It’s a big difference. God is the Father.
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:17-19)
Jesus is saying, “God works on the Sabbath, and I work on the Sabbath. I am one with God; so like God, I work even on the Sabbath.” As hard to understand as it is, Jesus really was, and is, equal with God. He is God.
He further emphasizes this in verse 19 by saying in effect, “We work together. We do things together.” There is a close and intimate communion between the Father and the Son.
Remember what our Lord prayed in John 17:21: “That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” In other words, over and over again, Jesus reiterated that being a Son of God meant that He was one with the Father.
For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing. (John 5:20a)
Jesus knew the Father loved Him. It’s a unity of love. Going again to John 17, we see these words:
I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. . . . I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (verses 23-24, 26)
As for God the Father, recall the times He called Jesus His “beloved Son.” The first and foremost object of the Father’s love is the Son.
And the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. (John 5:20b)
The Father spares nothing for the Son. He shows Him everything that He knows, everything that He has, far beyond what the Son had seen in His human experience. He spared nothing.
I suppose that’s why Jesus was full of grace and truth; God didn’t give Him the Spirit by measure. He showed the Son everything. He spared nothing. Even the cross had its joys. The Bible says, “He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2).
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son. (John 5:21-22)
Jesus is saying that God’s authority has been given to Him. Jesus will give life; He will bring to pass the judgment. I believe what He’s talking about is both a physical and a spiritual resurrection power. I believe it is the Son who, with the Father, gives life spiritually. And I believe it is the Son, with the Father, who will give life to physical bodies at the resurrection. And so we see that He is equal with God in power and authority. He is equal in His right to rule and reign and judge.
So that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:23-24)
If you listen to this command to honor the Son, you will be raised to everlasting life. If you do not, you will come into judgment. And so, the Father honors the Son by requiring us to honor Him.
In these five aspects, we see Jesus’ perspective on what it means for God to be His Father. God is one with His Son, loves His Son, blesses His Son, empowers His Son and honors His Son. I believe that this is probably the most concise theological statement Jesus ever made about the Father. It sums it up so beautifully.
Seeing all this, you may say, “Well, that’s nice for Him. But I’m not part of the Godhead. What does that have to do with me? I’m not sinlessly perfect. Jesus was God and man; I’m only man.”
In other words, we are left with this question: Is God such a Father to me as He is to Christ? Is God such a Father that He would make me one with Him, that He would love me and bless me and give me power and authority and honor? Is God such a Father to me?
This is the question we will examine next time.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1979, titled “Jesus’ View of the Father.”
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