It’s Father’s Day. We know that the role of a father is one of man’s most important and prestigious roles. Our race could not continue without fathers. Children need good fathers.
I’ve heard some men say that they love being fathers, that they couldn’t be prouder than to be the fathers of their children, and that fatherhood is more important to them than their careers.
Yet, Jesus never was a father.
His role is as the Son. And as our brother and Savior. But he never was a father. This is nothing too profound to observe, but it is, to me, striking on several levels.
Jesus is supposed to understand our human experience because He, as God, became a human. We call this the Incarnation. Yet, His incarnational experience was limited. How does this affect my relationship and your relationship with Jesus? How do roles (God’s and ours) impact our experience and human relationships?
Not only was Jesus never a father, he never was a woman. Often, I thought, well, Jesus never struggled with issues I’ve faced. He never experienced PMS. He never felt the aching, unfulfilled desire to be with child, on one hand, nor the nausea of pregnancy or the fear riding with the pain in delivery, and the exhaustion of tending a child through nights of illness.
If I were a man, what would I think? Jesus never had a wife. He never had to sort out how to understand her, how to care for a pregnant wife, how to face fatherhood, balancing the demands of career and family.
Moreover– I think of this often now — Jesus never grew old. He was approximately a mere 33 when He died, such a good age for marrying and starting a family. He never watched his skin age, his muscles weaken, his neck grow flabby. He never struggled with weight issues. He never witnessed the next generation running ahead of Him, looking down on him as some irrelevant, weak old man, as our culture categories old people — the elderly, incapable and irrelevant. In His culture, He never even became old enough to qualify as a Jewish “elder,” worthy of being a voice in His community, worthy of being a “rabbi.”
Yet, Scripture claims that Jesus can understand us, sympathize with us, because he was “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). The KJV wording says that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
“In all points.” Seems like we’ve experienced lots of points He never faced.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” KJV
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” NASB
Let me make a few observations.
- Jesus never was a father.
I am aware that there are some men who would like to be fathers but haven’t found their life partners. I do know of many single women who would like to be mothers but have never found their life partners. There are also couples who struggle with fertility issues — “Oh, if only I could be a father… a mother!” And there are men and women who are parents but are estranged from their children. For such people, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day and even holidays can be painful, isolating “celebration” days.
To you, I point to Jesus. He never was a father. He did not need to be a father to be a significant person, to live a life of meaning. Jesus said the following:
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38 NASB). Jesus recognized His unique calling. His calling was bigger than being a father in one particular family, as blessed as that calling is. I have interrupted Jesus’ dialogue. Jesus has just said that “everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me….” Jesus accepts that his role is as the son, and God the Father is the father. Jesus also clarifies the Father’s will for him. Verse 39 says, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.…”
Jesus declares that His role as the Son is to cooperate with the Father’s divine design, in which the Son becomes the Savior of the world.
2. Jesus was never a father.
He was a son. He was the Son of the Father. Returning to Hebrews 4:15, in which Jesus is described as being sympathetic to our experience, Jesus is called a “High Priest”. The book of Hebrews (written to Jewish believers) compares Jesus’ ministry to the priesthood (chapter 3), to the Aaronic priesthood (chapter 5), and the priesthood of Melchizedek (chapter 7). Earlier in the book, Jesus is compared to angels and to Moses. The book of Hebrews provides “solid food” that takes both study and experience to understand (Hebrews 5:14).
My point is that while Jesus was never a father, His roles followed the Father’s decrees, in line with who (identify) the Father and Son were/are. The son need not be a father. God appointed the Son to do the work to redeem the human race and finish this work. Thus, we refer to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as “the finished work of Christ” — completed with nothing left to do. Thus, after the ascension, Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, and there He intercedes for us (Romans 8:34; Eph.1:20, Col. 3:1).
Jesus did not need to be a father. Maybe you are a father, and if so, that role has a calling. Maybe you are not a father or maybe you are not a mother. Maybe you do not need to be a father or mother. But you do have an amazing identity. In Hebrews 3:1 where Jesus is called a High Priest, we are called “holy brethren” or “holy brothers and sisters”. I Peter 2:9 describes you and me this way: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Jesus was not a father. This is not only fine; it is good.
3. Jesus was always a part of a family.
While Jesus was never a father, he was always the son and always part of a family. First, He is eternally a part of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — one God, personal and communing within Himself. Note that God reveals His intra-personal communication in Genesis 1:26 in which we hear God saying to Himself, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….” Thus, this three in one, personal God could be love within HImself, and then when the Godhead chose to design creation, the Godhead chose to share this love with creation and with personalities created in His own image.
Jesus was never a father, but the Son was always a part of a family; He aways belonged to others.
Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). In John 15: 12-17, Jesus describes those who belong to Him as friends, not servants, friends so tight that they would lay down their lives for each other, that they would be fruitful, bearing a fruit that does not perish through their love, agape love, for one another. This family is so tight that it’s described as one body, the body of Christ — intricately connected to one another (Rom. 12:5; I Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 3:6; 5:23; Col. 1:18-27).
4. Jesus never was a father, a mother, an elderly person, or a sinner.
How do we explain that Jesus was touched by our feelings and infirmities because He was “in all points” tempted as we are “but without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)? In all points when in so many points, he had no experience? This needs a whole post, a whole book, but I’ll say this much. Jesus experienced being a real human being in body, soul, and spirit.
He experienced the full range of human capacity: thinking, feeling, longing, deciding, and acting from within a human body. He exercised his abilities to commune with His Heavenly Father and to communicate with fellow humans: friends, family, and foes. Yes, without sin, so He demonstrates what humanity really and innately is. Our sin nature is not innate to being human but is an interloper into our nature. Yet, Jesus identified with our sin by becoming our sin, carrying our sin to the cross, a weight heavier than any we’ve borne or ever could (II Corinthians 5:21). Hebrews 5:8 tells us that he “learned” (experienced) “obedience through the things He suffered” – for us. In all categories of being human, in all these points, he has experienced our experiences. No, he has not experienced our specificities. He doesn’t need to. The Holy Spirit is present with us in our circumstances. “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace…”(Hebrews 4:16).
5. Jesus never was a father, but he belongs to the Father’s family.
Our challenge is to connect with those to whom we belong: God and His people. You don’t need to be a father or mother. Jesus was not a father. But we all have a father — our Heavenly Father, to whom Jesus directed us to pray. Not to “my father” but to “our Father” (Matt. 6:9-13). “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name….” We belong to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We belong to each other. Jesus challenged us to love one another, and we don’t need to be a father nor a mother to do so. We are brothers and sisters.
Today is Father’s Day. We belong to each other. If we have fathers alive to honor, we honor them with love.
No matter, whomever you see, whomever you are with — touch them with a taste of agape love: simple and direct – a smile with eye contact, or more creatively, with a word, an invitation, a gift. Whatever. We belong to each other. This is enough.
Great message. I especially liked the revelation I got about how important friendships are. Since our relationship with Jesus is friend, not father, my friendships with Christians take on even more of a holy quality. There is much to ponder in your blog. 🤔