|Create Date||November 5, 2017|
|Last Updated||November 5, 2017|
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JESUS REVEALS THE FATHER
Redhill. 22 October 2017. Presented by Gordon Green
We have been presenting a series called The Jesus Story with an emphasis on the miracles and parables of Jesus. Some of the purposes of the miracles and parables were:
- They were an opportunity for the disciples to have their faith stretched and bring them to a new level of maturity.
- Parables revealed and illustrated truths about the Kingdom of God.
- The parable is both an effective and memorable vehicle for the conveyance of divine truths.
- Jesus’ parables were rich in imagery and were not easily forgotten.
- Parables were meant to shock the listeners and get them thinking deeply.
- Both teach us how to relate to others —and how God expects us to respond to him.
But there was a very important reason why Jesus spoke in parables and performed miracles that is often overlooked. Why did Jesus come to earth? There a number of reasons - to save sinners, to invite us to share the abundant life with the Trinity etc. But there is something very important: Jesus came to reveal something that had never been revealed before. He came to reveal the Father. Matthew 11:27 “...no one knows the Father except the son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known (John 1:18). So a major reason why Jesus spoke in parables and performed miracles was to reveal who God the Father is – what he is like.
Many Christians think the Father is harsh and Jesus is just the opposite – gentle, kind, loving. They see the Father as a faceless, remorseless, white giant. A bearded grandfather behind a computer sitting on clouds. But Jesus reveals in the parables and miracles who God is - caring, compassionate, love. But what about “the harsh, unloving God of the OT:? For example;
“When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property” (Exodus 21:20, 21).
“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” (1 Samuel 15:3). That’s in the Bible! But is God really like that – vengeful, angry and showing no mercy?
Some Christians try and explain these scriptures by arguing that:
- God changes. That’s the God of the OT. He was hard, a punisher - angry. He is not like that anymore. But the scriptures tell us that God does not change. If he does change what will he do and be like tomorrow or in 10 years time? How can we trust a God like that?
- God can do what he likes – he is God! If God does something like we read about in these OT scriptures it’s ok (so that means I can do it as well – I can say God did it so why can’t I?!). We don’t have time to go through some of these difficult scriptures. There are not always easy answers, but it is something we need to think about.
But is there another way of looking at these strange OT scriptures? Could the answer be that it is not God who changes but it is our own understanding of God that changes over time? I believe so. The Bible tells us a story of Israel on a journey to know God. I see us on a journey with God and slowly, slowly he is revealing more and more about himself. It is not God who changes but it is our own understanding of God growing and changing over time.
There are scriptures that are difficult to understand and explain but we must remember that Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. Jesus came to change our mind about God. When we read the Bible and get to Jesus there is something very different - a change. Jesus said for example “You have heard that it (in the OT, Hebrew scriptures) was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you….” In other words Jesus was saying I am saying something different. Can you imagine Jesus saying “What! What did you do? Your sin is so horrible I can’t even look at you!” Never. He was called “a friend of sinners.”
So this is why we must look at the Bible through the eyes of Jesus. We need to read the Bible in a Jesus- centered way. Why is the focus on Jesus? He is the Lord over all things. He is superior over everything. He gives us the perfect revelation. He said “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” “The Son is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). He is the centre of the centre and we need to always read the Bible in this way.
Have you ever wondered – why do we have the OT (Hebrew scriptures)? Why don’t we just use the NT? The OT gives us a background, context to Jesus. We can’t just start with Jesus. This is a big subject! But one purpose of this sermon is to get all of us thinking!
But let’s return to the miracles and parables. They help us understand more deeply about who God is – what he is like. For example, in the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus changed water into wine he revealed God’s goodness, his compassion, his limitless, loving kindness. We realise that God is in the details of our lives. We see his love – spontaneous love. Can you imagine the disciples reaction? “Wow – did you see that?”
The parable of the prodigal son is a perfect example of a story in which Jesus reveals to us what the Father is like. We don’t see an angry father. But we see grace, compassion, forgiveness, tenderness, reconciliation – the son is smothered and embraced with unconditional, spontaneous love. Nothing but love.
God the Father is like Jesus. Always. There wasn’t a time when he wasn’t like Jesus – but we haven’t always known this. Now we do – all because of Jesus.
God has a single disposition towards you and it’s an eternal, unchanging, unending love.
But it doesn’t end there.
Don’t you want to be just like the Father? Not only forgiven but also one who forgives? Not only made to feel welcome but also welcoming others? Not only receiving compassion but offering the same compassion that he has offered us?
Stay on the journey.