Before our services begin on Sunday at the Community Care Center, I usually give a Scripture and welcoming piece. This week I wanted to say something special for Father’s Day, as many of the men are lonely and feel forgotten. Here’s what the Lord gave me for them.
When you first meet someone new, the question “What do I call you?” needs to be answered, because the name or title by which we address someone tells a lot about the nature of our relationship. If someone says “I’m Mr. Simmons,” we know the relationship is more formal. If he says, “My name is Harrison,” we relate to him on a more personal level. And if he says “Just call me Harry!” that’s an even more friendly, less formal relationship.
What if we think our relationship with someone has changed, and we're not certain what we should call him or her? It's an uneasy feeling, isn't it?
We see a similar issue in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God spoke to a few people, who relayed His words to everyone. A formal relationship. Jesus brought with Him a new issue – How do we think about God now that He is Emmanuel - God With Us?
Jesus was God, and He shared some of the titles and forms of address from the Old Testament, just to reinforce the fact of Who he was. The disciples called Him Lord and Master, and God was also called those things (Genesis 28, Malachi 1:6). God is the Creator and in John 1:3 we read “Through Him (Jesus) all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” God is the deliverer (2 Samuel 22:2), and so is Jesus (Romans 11:26). God is light (1 John 1:5) and Jesus is light (John 8:12). God is the Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4), and 1 Corinthians 10:4 identifies Christ as the rock. 2 Samuel 22:31 tells us “As for God His way is perfect.” Jesus said “I am the way”(John 14:6). God is truthful (1 Timothy 3:15) and Jesus said “I am the truth” (John 14:6) Finally, Jacob identifies God as his shepherd (Genesis 48:15), and Jesus is also the good Shepherd (John 10:11).
But the most significant example begins all the way back to Exodus chapter 3. There was Moses, standing by the burning bush, receiving his commission. And he said in verse 13, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
This is the name God told His people to call Him.
I AM Who I AM. The self-existent one.
It was a holy name; a powerful name; the personal name of Almighty God, that one could only whisper with awe and reverence. But to everyone’s shock, in John 8:58, Jesus tells the religious leaders, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” And the next thing they did was pick up stones to stone Him, because they knew exactly what He meant. He was claiming to be God. He was using the personal name of Almighty God.
These are only a few examples. But there is an exception, and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today.
When God sent His Son down to earth to relate to us in our humanness, He had to then choose a new name that would distinguish him from the second and third persons of the trinity. A name that would indicate the new relationship it was possible to have with Him through Christ. What name would He pick?
Jesus said, “When you pray, pray like this; Our Father….”
In the Old Testament, people could come before God as before a king, with fear and trembling, not daring to look into His face. But now, in the New Testament, we have been reconciled to Him through the blood of Jesus Christ, and the relationship has changed. Now He is Our Father, a relationship all peoples understand. Not our dictator or our jailer or our police chief.
It is a vastly different thing to come running to your Father than to come cringing before your King.
When God wanted to relate to us – when He wanted to show us that He loved us and cared about us and had all our best interests in His heart and mind and hands - he chose a name that would show all that.
It was a name He kept to Himself and didn’t share even with Jesus, His Chosen One.
He called Himself “Our Father.” And so on Father’s Day, we remember our earthly fathers, given to us as a picture of His love, so we could understand how He wants us to relate to Him.
And we give thanks for our fathers, to our Heavenly Father, who gave us the right to be called Children of God.