My Father has given me all things. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
In yesterday’s scripture Jesus reveals that God has given him a prophetic word. He responds with a prayer of praise, gratitude, humility, and affirmation. And now he turns to all who will listen and tells them about his wonderful Dad. He celebrates the relationship with his awesome Father who has just touched his heart.
Jesus proclaims to all his intimate relationship with God as his Son. Because he’s the one and only Son of God, right? Isn’t that what we recite in the Apostle’s Creed? He has a totally special and unique relationship with God, right. I mean, he IS God, right?
This whole notion of an individual referring to God as their Father is pretty rare in the Jewish tradition of the Old Testament.
The prophet Nathan receives a word from God that refers to Solomon as his son: “I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him as a father punishes his son.” This same prophecy is repeated several times (2 Samuel 7:14-15; 1 Chronicles 17:13, 22:10, 28:6; Psalm 89:26).
Later in the books of the Apocrypha which were written shortly before Jesus was born, the practice of referring to God as “Father” seems to have emerged, although there are less than a dozen references. For example:
Let all who live hear your praise. The Lord is our God and father forever. (Tobit 13:4).
But it is your care, O Father, that steers it; you give a safe path through the waves of the sea (Wisdom of Solomon 14:3).
O Lord, my Father, God of my life, keep me from being arrogant (Sirach 23:4).
Generally speaking, the God of Israel was perceived by the Jews as great and powerful, holy, and somewhat distant. He was their creator, provider, healer, judge, and savior. He was at times a harsh enforcer, a severe taskmaster. The God of Israel was scary. They were afraid of God. They didn’t strive to have a personal relationship with God. Most tried to relate to God exclusively through the kings and priests and prophets. They tried to avoid personal contact.
Jesus, however, teaches us that our relationship with God isn’t a legal relationship conditional upon our good behavior. It is more like a family relationship with God as the Father as the wise, protective head of the household. It is an emotional relationship that is characterized by unconditional love between the Father and his children.
Jesus often refers to God as his Father. By my count, he calls God “Father” in 37 scriptures in Matthew alone, about the same number of times that he refers to him as “God.” But he doesn’t claim to be God’s only son. When Jesus teaches us to pray, he instructs us to address God as OUR father: “Our Father, who art in heaven…” He doesn’t claim to be God’s only son. He says that we all share the same heavenly Father. The church may have taught us that Jesus is God’s only son (as in the Apostle’s Creed), but that is not what Jesus taught. Jesus taught us that God is the father of us all. Every last one of us. Our father.
On the other hand, like each of us, he has a special relationship with his Father which he celebrates in this scripture. After giving God glory for giving him all things, Jesus states that God know things about him that no one else knows. He also declares that he has revealed things to Jesus that he has revealed to no one else, unless Jesus chooses to tell them.
Each of us can, in fact make this same statement. Father God is the source of everything that I have. He knows things about me that no one else knows, and he has revealed things to me that he has revealed to no one else.
All of us have our own personalities, our own life experiences, our own needs, and our own unique relationship with God. We all see life and God differently based on our experiences and what God has chosen to show us. Our knowledge of God is unique, precious, intimate, and very specific for each of us as he leads and guides us on our own personal journey. Jesus invites all of us to follow his example by acknowledging and appreciating this special relationship.
Remember, Jesus warned his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount that it’s of critical importance to have a personal relationship with God as opposed to just going through the motions. (See Day 62). Our Father in heaven wants us to love him: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). And to love him you have to know him. Jesus lets us see his love for his Father in this scripture. He gives us a glimpse into this intimate relationship and models a healthy Father-Child relationship for us.
I like to sing love songs to God. These kinds of songs were introduced in the 1980s. I remember when I was first introduced to this musical genre some of the lyrics made me uncomfortable because they were so……mushy. Here, for example, are the lyrics of Father God by Rob Critchley:
Father God I really love you
Abba Father I find peace in your arms
Hold me close for I have learned to depend on you alone
My Father God.
Father God I really need you
Abba Father let me hear your still small voice
Speak to me for I have taught my heart to trust in you alone
My Father God.
I have stilled and quieted my soul
Like a child I lay my head upon your breast
Father you are all that I am longing for
Perfect love, endless rest.
Some people really hate singing these songs, and others say they are unable to sing them because they make them too emotional. Personally, however, I like to push these kinds of boundaries and challenge myself to be transparent and authentic about my feelings about God. I choose to experience and celebrate these emotions.
So what was it that God said to Jesus that made him so happy? What was the word he was so delighted to receive? Fortunately for us, Jesus chooses to share what God has whispered in his ear with the rest of us. I will give you a hint that it is a much-loved, oft-quoted scripture that Christians use for comfort and strength in challenging times. It is a word that clarifies and affirms for Jesus what his mission going forward should be. It is a world of encouragement for both Jesus and those whom he was sent to help.
What does this scripture say to you?