Today we celebrate Father’s Day. And we remember our fathers, either living or passed on. Fathers certainly influence us in so many ways. When I was growing up, it was the father who was the bread-winner/ provider – the wife stayed home and took care of the house and the kids! I remember my father staying out of the kitchen – that was women’s work! And yet he loved to mash the potatoes and fry a piece of steak. He had his likes and dislikes, his duties and responsibilities, and he was a good disciplinarian. No fooling around with my Dad when things were serious! He was a hard worker with carpentry skills who built our family home. He lived an honest, diligent life and loved his wife and five children in the very best ways he could.
Have you ever wondered about Jesus growing up? His earthly father Joseph was a carpenter and perhaps Jesus learned those skills with him? Did Jesus work in the carpentry shop? And how did Joseph discipline Jesus? A good father will be stern at times. But Joseph must have been a very caring, understanding and compassionate father to have God’s Son living under his roof.
In our Mark scripture reading, we see a grown-up Jesus who has begun his ministry with his disciples, and he is in a house with a crowd gathered around. Jesus has been healing many people, preaching about a new kingdom of God, and even driving out demons! In Mark 3: 21 we’re told: “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” Doesn’t this sound like an act of discipline? Here comes Mary his mother and his brothers to bring him home! “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you,” Jesus is told. And Jesus, looking at the crowd gathered around his feet, says: “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
What an amazing thing for Jesus to say! What is he talking about? He is talking about this new kingdom of God. Jesus is talking about an extended family of God in which believers in him and God’s Spirit take part. We understand Jesus’ meaning today, for we have his teachings and statements in our scriptures to study and comprehend his spiritual messages. What do our scriptures say about this spiritual family of God?
We’re told that we become heirs of God’s family! That we become the sons and daughters of this Godly kingdom! “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Sprit, who lives in you…The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” Romans 8: 11, 16, 17. Those led by the in-dwelling Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. And that’s us! We are part of a Godly family.
Jesus backs up these statements by telling us in John chapter 14 that he will send the Holy Spirit who will live in us, saying: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you,” and Jesus says: “If anyone loves me…my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him,” (verses 20, 23). God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit make their home with us! It’s quite an incredible realization.
Have you ever thought about being a member of God’s family? A son or daughter of God? Our Heavenly Father, loving us like our earthly fathers? How much does God love us? “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear [love, revere] him,” Psalm 103: 11. Does God our Father show us compassion? “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear [love, revere] him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust,” Psalm 103: 13,14. God remembers our mortal bodies. Does God discipline us like our earthly fathers? “Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves… God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness,” Hebrews 12: 5,6,10. And these verses go on to tell us that God’s discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Verse 11.)
Are we trained by God? To take part in God’s family? And if so, how? The Holy Spirit living in us gifts us with skills and talents to use for God’s kingdom. In so doing, we produce a harvest of righteousness and share in God’s holiness. What are these gifts given to us? Romans chapter 12 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12 list some of them: serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, giving generously, leadership skills, showing mercy, being cheerful, joyfulness, patience, practising hospitality, prophesying, the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, faith and healing, miraculous powers, administrative skills, among others. We are asked: “Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing?… The manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good,” 1 Corinthians 12: 29, 30, 7.
The Spirit of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit live within us! God loves us with such an amazing love! And it is personal. God takes delight in us! “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love,” Ps. 147: 11. Jesus says: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand,” John 10: 28. And God calls us by name: “I have summoned you by name; you are mine,” Isaiah 43: 1.
We are part of an earthly family, but also part of a heavenly family. We are the sons and daughters of God! We are heirs to God’s Kingdom! God loves us, disciplines us, takes delight in us, names us, and gifts us with skills and talents to share. We are God’s chosen family!
And one last thought: if you were a member in Jesus’ family when he lived on earth, who would you like to be? I’d like to be his sister. And help him in his ministry. We can do this today – we are his eternal family and modern-day disciples. May it be so! Thanks be to God! Amen.
A VIDEO VERSION OF THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND AT THE FOLLOWING LINK.