In John chapter 1 and verse 18, we have this tremendous statement: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” The Son whom the Father loved, made known God as a Father.
The intriguing thing to us is that Jesus brought a different concept of God than had been known in Old Testament times. You can read right through the Old Testament and will find only three clear verses that speak of God as a Father: these are II Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:26, and Isaiah 9:6. For example, in Psalm 18 we have what is generally considered a picture of the nature of God. “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalms 18:1-2 NIV). Notice all those tremendous figures of speech and yet no mention of the fact of God as a Father. The truth was foreign to the Hebrew nation simply because God had not revealed Himself in that way.
However, when Jesus came, the Word says, “He has made him known”, as a Father. The word “father” is used of God 244 times in the New Testament; 112 times in the Gospel of John alone. Matthew uses it 43 times, Mark 5, Luke 14, and other New Testament books 70 times.
It is certainly true that God made the heavens and the earth. He is the Creator and Sustainer, and is worthy of our adoration and worship. Yet the Word reveals that the moment I accepted Jesus as my Lord, I became a member of the family of God. Thus the emphasis should be upon the fact that God is my Father, rather than on His almighty being.
Most Christians have a low estimation of our God. They think of Him as a policeman with a stick, ready to deal with them if they step out of line; or that He causes disease, suffering, and death. Very few Christians have the greatness of the understanding that God is their Father, that He desires to treat them as a loving, heavenly Father, that He wants the best for His children all the time, and will not force upon His children anything that would be harmful to them. God is our Father. He is not going to let us get into a situation that is harmful to us, if we will walk by the greatness of our believing and follow the revelation that He gives.
Why the Jews hated Jesus
The great truth to get firmly rooted in our mind is that God is our Father. This is the truth that Jesus brought to human comprehension. The one unique feature that overwhelms all of His teaching is the fact that He claimed God was His Father. This was the reason why Jesus so often had problems with the Jews, for He boldly declared that God was His Father.
In John 5:17-18 this is clearly observed: “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18). Notice the reason why the Jews wanted to kill Him: because He said God was His Father. It was this concept of a human being on this earth claiming God as His Father that really stirred up the Jews against Him.
Again, when Jesus was before Pilate, on the night before He was crucified, “As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’ But Pilate answered, ‘You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him’. The Jews insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God’.” (John 19:6-7). The same reason is given here as His crime against society: He claimed that God was His Father. It is no more popular now to say that God is your Father than it was back in those days. No one attempts to crucify us; they just think we are mad.
How Jesus saw His relationship
Here are some statements Jesus made about His relationship to the Father. In John 5:19-20 we read: “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. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these’.” (John 5:19-20). Notice this intimate relationship between a father and his son. Everything the Father did He showed His Son, because He loved His Son.
In verse 30 of John chapter 5 we have another statement: “‘By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me'” (John 5:30). He did not want to do things His way; He wanted to do them in the Father’s way every time. It does not mean He was unable to do things of His own will. He had renewed His mind to the extent that He refused to do anything of His own will. He would only operate as the Father told Him what to do and what to say and where to go.
Perhaps now we can understand John 14:8-9: “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?'” (John 14:8-9). Just to take a look at the life of Jesus, to see how He renewed His mind, how He walked by revelation, and what He did and said, will show us what the Father is like. Jesus came that He make Him known. Philip had been walking around with Jesus for months, and yet he still did not recognise that the Father was just like the Son he was watching. Jesus continually renewed His mind, walked perfectly by revelation, and so He could say, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
The same truth is also stated in John chapter 6, “‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven [He was conceived by the Holy Spirit] not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:37-38). His goal in life was to do His Father’s will. This is a tremendous relationship between a loving Father who is willing to supply everything that is needed, and a Son who is willing to walk exactly according to the will of the Father.
In John chapter 8, we find another glimpse of this tremendous relationship: “‘I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.’ They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him'” (John 8:26-29). Jesus was a God-pleaser. Everything He said and did was with one great motive: He wanted to please the Father. No other man has renewed his mind to that degree.
Later in John chapter 8 we read: ‘”Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word” (John 8:54-55). What a tremendous, positive statement: Jesus knew God and He knew Him as a Father.
Believers must get to that same place. We must know that God is what the Word says He is! When we belong to the family of God, God is our Father! The Jews called Him God; Jesus called Him Father. The Church today calls Him God, yet very few intelligently call Him Father. How lonesome He must be. He is a Father-God with a Father-heart and His people call Him just plain God, just like they would speak of a neighbour. We must learn the truth that God is our Father.
Paul the apostle also used the term “father” in respect of God. “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). Notice the words “God our Father”. Paul, by using the word “our”, is including all believers.
One other verse will suffice, since you will find this same pattern repeated in nearly all the salutations of the Epistles. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 1:3). Written to believers, those who are born again of the Spirit of God, the statement is again made that God is our Father. The greatness of this truth you must build in yourself as you continually work the Word of God, reading exactly what the Word declares regarding God.
God is our Father
While we know God is the great Creator, the almighty God, our Rock, our Strength, yet above all we know God is our Father. Without a consciousness of God as our Father, He becomes somebody very far away; somebody who has to be approached in a very dignified and reverent fashion; usually somebody that we can only approach on the right day in the right building. But if we see that God is our Father, whenever we want to renew our minds to the truth, then we will see the greatness of what our loving Father has for us.
The moment we were born into the family of God by the new birth, the Father longed for a personal father-son relationship. But wrong teaching and misplaced emphasis has robbed us of seeing God in this close personal relationship. However, we know from the Word that God is our Father and we are His children. Because of this we know that we are brothers and sisters, we all belong to the same family.
One of the reasons we have so many fights among believers is that we do not comprehend God as our Father. Failing to see the greatness of this relationship, we fail to see the greatness of our relationship with fellow-believers. In Galatians 5:15 we are told not to be cannibal Christians, fighting and wanting to devour one another. We should see each other as brothers and sisters in the wonderful family of which God is the Father.
Christianity is not a religion but the way of a Father with His family. Meditate upon and consider the greatness of God’s Word which reveals God as our Father and us as His children.
By Peter Wade