Summary: God our Heavenly Father, shows who really is the greatest father on Father’s Day.
John 3:1-17 THE GREATEST FATHER EVER
Today is Father’s Day. Do you know the origin of Father’s Day? The first widely promoted Father’s Day celebration was held in Spokane, Washington, on June 19, 1910. A woman named Louise Dodd envisioned the event as a special religious service that involved small gifts as well as loving greetings from children to their fathers. She took her idea to her pastor and he shared the idea with the local pastor’s association. The mayor of the city and the governor of the state endorsed the idea. Even the famed politician, William Jennings Bryan, weighed in with words of support. The third Sunday in June was established as Father’s Day.
The woman who started this, Louise Dodd, dearly loved her own father. When his wife died in childbirth, he was left with six children to raise. He made great sacrifices, and somehow he was able to both raise his children and operate his farm. His devotion to his children sparked Louise’s idea of having a “father’s day.”
Father’s Day was slow to catch on. What Louise had done was not even well known in her own state despite the governor’s support. The idea of honoring fathers with a special day was actually reinvented in a number of different places, with each place thinking it was starting something new. By 1916, President Woodrow Wilson had endorsed the idea of a Father’s Day, and in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge recommended a national observance Father’s Day "to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligation" and to strengthen the ties between fathers and children.
The idea of fatherhood is strong in the Bible. Unlike the gods of other religions, the Christian God is portrayed as a loving Father. Christ declared God his own Father and claimed to show in himself what the Father was like. In the Christian faith, every day is a Father’s Day, because every day we honor our Heavenly Father for the amazing grace he has shown to us.
This morning, as we think about Father’s Day, I have some shocking news for you – you have been adopted. Your real father is not who you think it is. I’m talking spiritually, of course. Spiritually, you have been adopted into the Heavenly Father’s family. You were not born a child of God. You’re not naturally a child of God. You are adopted.
For some of you, this might come as a shock. “I thought everyone was a child of God. I thought God was everyone’s Father! Isn’t God the creator of all people? Isn’t God the provider of all people? Isn’t everyone born a child of God?”
It seems that way, until you do the research. Today, as we look at Bible, we find out that by nature, we have a very ugly spiritual family tree. Ephesians 2:3 tells us, “We were by nature, objects of wrath.” When you and I were born into this world, by nature, we were objects of the wrath of God. We weren’t part of God’s family. Psalm 51:5 tells us why: “Surely I was a sinner at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” By nature, you were conceived and born into sin, and that means that you were conceived and born outside of the family of God. One of the most striking passages in the Bible about your spiritual family tree is what Jesus said in John 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning.” Jesus says that the Devil is your natural spiritual father.
Imagine the shock you would feel if your father sat you down one day and said to you, “I have something to tell you – you’ve been adopted. I’m not your real father. Your real father is a convicted murderer who is serving three life sentences in prison.” Spiritually, this is what God the Father tells us. The only “natural” son of God the Father has Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus says in our Gospel lesson: “You must be born again.”
Think about the future of someone born outside of God’s family. In the world, there are some who don’t look like they will have a good future. Sometimes you’ll hear about a child whose parents are drug addicts and lifetime criminals. The child’s neighborhood is filled with crime. All his friends and relatives are criminals. What does the future hold for that child? Unless something drastic happens, that child will most likely become a criminal, and go to prison.
So it is with you. Born into a sinful world. A natural child of the Devil. Surrounded by spiritual criminals. Unless something drastic happens, the future is one of sin and a sentence of eternal hell after you die. Something needs to be done.