Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sermon: Fathers (John 5:19-20a)

A Father's Responsibilities (John 5:19-20a)
Dr. Paul Manuel—2006

It is interesting the kinds of things that make an impression on children. Last Sunday afternoon, several of us heard about the bear that Nathaniel saw, complete with sound effects. In fact, most of us heard about it several times. Nathaniel did not actually hear the bear roar, but his siblings told him the sound a bear makes, and that impressed him and became part of his recounting the event. What makes an impression may not always be accurate, but it can make a story more vivid.
Three young boys are bragging about their respective fathers. The first boy says, "My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a poem, and gets $50 for it." The second boy says, "That's nothing. My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a song, and gets $100 for it." The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a sermon...and it takes four people to collect all the money!"
What a child tells, including what he tells about his father, may not always be accurate, but it will reflect what impresses him. When Jesus tells about his heavenly father, it is also what impresses him, but it is entirely accurate.

In John 5, Jesus is engaged in some controversial activity, at least, controversial for some. He is healing on the Sabbath, and that is causing quite a stir among certain religious authorities.1 Their negative reaction prompts a comment from him about God. It is a description of our heavenly father that earthly fathers can and should emulate. When these Jewish leaders ask Jesus to explain his actions, why he heals on the Sabbath...
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20a For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does."
When Jesus says, "the son can do nothing by himself,"2 he means he is not entirely free to do as he pleases. There are boundaries he is not able to cross. We tend to picture Jesus as having the same capabilities as God the Father, which is probably true now but was not true when Jesus was on earth. To come here, Jesus gave up many of the advantages of deity.3 As Paul writes...
Phil 2:6 [Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be [retained], 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient....