A Midweek Devotional - Fatherly Care
We continue our advent worship by looking to Isaiah 9:6 and the names given for the prophesied Messiah. This week we see that the son to be born shall be called “Everlasting Father.” At first blush, this seems to be a confusing name. How is Jesus both Son and father? We’ll explore that question more fully on Sunday, but today let us look to an example of His fatherly care from John 14.
Wednesday, December 9th
Larger Portion of Scripture - John 14
Focused Passage for Reflection - John 14:15-31 (emphasis on v. 18)
Reflecting on the Text:
“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” These are powerful words from Jesus, offered as a promise, primarily to the disciples but secondarily to Christians throughout history. These words of promise speak directly to our hearts as He speaks directly into our fears of abandonment. Jesus is implying His fatherly care for the disciples, and He considers them to be His children.
With those implications in mind, it is comforting to consider what type of fatherly care is also implied. What does a good and loving father do for his children? Among other things, the good and loving father is PRESENT with his children…physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The good and loving father PROVIDES for his children. He is not miserly in his care but abundant in his provision. The good and loving father PROTECTS his children, providing an atmosphere of safety where his children can flourish in their gifting and can grow in maturity. And the good and loving father PLANS for his family’s care should the situation arise when he is not able to be the one to provide.
Jesus has done all of this, exercising fatherly care over the disciples, and though He has just told them that He must go away, He is promising His fatherly care will continue. He utters the words of comfort: “I will come to you.” They couldn’t understand it yet, but when He spoke of going away He was speaking of His death. But death would not win. Jesus defeated death, rose from the grave, and made good on His promise. In His resurrection, He came to them. The good and loving father keeps his word.
Yet in a broader sense, Jesus continued to provide for their care by sending the Holy Spirit. That is the context of John 14:15-31. Jesus is promising another Helper who will teach them all things and bring to remembrance all that He taught them. (v. 26) This Helper, the Holy Spirit, would continue the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise not to leave them as orphans. Like a good and loving father, He provided for their care even after He was gone. But the Helper’s work was to include the work of sealing them in the eternal, everlasting family of God, where they would continue for all eternity to experience the fatherly care of Jesus.
All of this was captured in Jesus’ words to the disciples, and all of it is true for us as well. The disciples may have been the initial audience, but Christians of all time are also in view. Jesus fulfilled the prophetic word by living into His name: Everlasting Father. The child who was born, the Son who was given to us has not left us as orphans. For the elect of God, He has secured our place in His eternal family by providing, protecting, and planning, all so that we could be present with Him as He is ever-present with us.
This Christmas, as we anticipate the birth of the baby Jesus, let us anticipate His life as well. And in His life, we will see the fulfillment of His purpose. Through His life and His death, we receive life everlasting.
Questions for personal reflection:
What emotion does this promise of Jesus to not leave us as orphans stir within you?
For some of us, this promise stirs hope. For some, it may stir painful memories from earthly families. Regardless of your response, will you be willing to find another within the body of Christ to process this text?