Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip Heitzig: Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Luke, the gospel of Luke, chapter 8. It has been my privilege for years, and I say that sincerely, my privilege to preach and teach at this great church through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. And I love the fact that I get to spend time in God's Word and with the Lord and prepare and mull through and make text applicable. And as we have been in Daniel on Sunday mornings, we depart taking a break to look at a very special passage in Luke, chapter 8, for fathers.
Now, let's just clear this up. "Why the bow tie, Pastor Skip?" Well, it's because when Father's Day started in its origins in the early part of the nineteen hundreds, the tradition was if your father is alive, you wear red; if your father has passed away, you wear white. So to honor my father who is no longer with us, I'm wearing a lot of white and a little bow tie; so just to bring that honor. The Bible says honor your father and your mother, and today we talk about fathers.
Now, fathers, I'd like you to stand to your feet for a moment. All dads stand to your feet; no sitting fathers. [applause] Okay. And I'd like you dads to stay standing the whole service actually, just to see if you can do it. Now, wait, wait, don't sit down. [laughter] Don't sit down; we're going to pray for you now. Okay? Stay standing, we're going to pray for you.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for these men. I thank you, Lord, for the great influence they are in this fellowship and in this town. Our state is better because of men, leaders who love you, who fellowship, bring families to church, and lead their families in devotions and sincere worship. Lord, all the things that we're going to talk about today, I thank you for so many men that are already doing that, and they're an inspiration to me. And I pray a special blessing upon their lives and an encouragement to them to keep going, in Jesus' name, amen.
Please have a seat. One little boy said, "Father's Day is a lot like Mother's Day, except you don't spend as much for the gift." [laughter] I want you to know that Father's Day came about by a woman named Sonora Dodd from Spokane, Washington, in 1908. She was actually sitting in church listening to a Mother's Day sermon, and it dawned on her that there wasn't a celebration, yet, honoring dads. Why that was important to her is Sonora Dodd, her mother died when she was young, and she was raised almost exclusively by a very hard working, diligent father. So, she petitioned the government and eventually Father's Day became as much a celebration as Mother's Day.
I want to speak to men today primarily: young men raising families; older men who have been there, done that, but you still have a role in grandchildren or mentoring people; single men who will one day become fathers; and then also to woman so that you will understand a unique role that a father plays in a home and in a culture. A father is a unique creature, but still just a man. I've had a number of women say to me over the years, "I just don't understand men." Well, you probably never will. I've had an equal number of men who say, "I don't understand women." It goes both ways.
Women, to help you understand men, let me just go through some common phrases that you have heard them say over the years, and let me retranslate them for you. This comes from the Men's Thesaurus: When a man says, "It'd take too long to explain," he means, "I have no idea how it works." When a man says, "Take a break, honey, you're working too hard," he means, "I can't hear the game over the vacuum cleaner." When a man says, "That's interesting, dear," he means, "Are you still talking?" When a man says, "It's a guy thing," he means, "There's no rational thought pattern connected with this, and you have no chance at all of making it logical."
When a man says, "Can I help with dinner?" what he means is, "Why isn't it ready yet?" When a man says, "Uh-huh, sure, honey," or "Yes, dear," he means absolutely nothing, it's a conditioned response. "Uh-huh, sure, honey. Yes, dear. Yes, dear. Sure honey." When a man says, "You know how bad my memory is," he means, "I can remember the theme song to Hogan's Heroes, the phone number of the first girl I ever kissed, all the vehicle identification numbers of every car I've ever owned, but, yes, I forgot your birthday."
When a man says, "You look terrific!" What he means is, "Oh, please, don't try on one more outfit; we're late and I'm starving." When a man says, "That's not what I meant," what he means is, "If something I said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, I meant the other one."
Twenty-seven years ago I became a dad; three years ago I became a grandpa; and, again, another grandfather of a very historic child, a girl, one year ago. Wonderful experiences, weighty experiences. When my son was born, the wonder of—"I'm a dad!" and then the weight of—"I'm responsible for at least eighteen years," were both emotions mingled together in that unique experience.
The father in our text of Scripture is somebody who understood the weight of fatherhood, for this man in our story has a twelve-year-old girl at the point of death, and this man is desperate. Any parent who has ever seen a child suffer is immediately drawn to this story, and immediately drawn to the compassion of our Savior in this story.
So, it's a story of a father and a daughter. We don't know the girl's name. We know her age; she's twelve years old. But we do know the father's name; his name is Jairus. And we're told in the text that he was a ruler of the synagogue, which would naturally mean that that twelve-year-old girl would have seen and would have known her father is somebody very important, very hard working, very prominent. But because of this story she would see something else in her father, and there are three things that you will see.
But let's read the text and then go back and see those things. Luke, chapter 8, beginning in verse 40, "So it was, when Jesus returned," that is, from across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum where his headquarters was, "that the multitude welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was ruler of the synagogue. He fell down at Jesus' feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as he went, the multitudes thronged him."
Now in the next verse, verse 43 down to verse 48, is a story of an interruption. A woman comes along who has a disease, a flow of blood. Jesus deals with that, and then the story of Jairus continues in verse 49. "While he [Jesus] was still speaking," that is, to the woman that interrupted, "someone came from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying so him, 'Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.' But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, 'Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.' When he came into the house, he permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl.
"Now, all wept and mourned for her; but he said, 'Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.' And they ridiculed him, knowing that she was dead. He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, 'Little girl, arise.' And her spirit returned; she arose immediately. And he commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished," that's an understatement, "but he charged them not to tell anyone what had happened."
So, you have a girl and a father, and this girl would have seen her father as somebody important, somebody hard working. But because of this story she would see other things in her father. There are three of them I want to present. First of all, she saw a dad unashamed to seek Jesus. Now, he is called in the text "a ruler of the synagogue." The Greek word is archón, and it's the highest ranking spiritual official in town. The town was Capernaum. You can go today and still see the ruins of that synagogue in that town.
This man, the ruler, the archón supervised the worship for the synagogue. There were actually a couple of different officials that would have been in in that synagogue. One was named a hazzan/chazzan, and the hazzan kept the scrolls of Scripture in a closet, a wooden box called the ark, also trimmed the lamps for the lighting, also cleaned up the place.
But the ruler of the synagogue, he was different. He planned the worship services; he chose who it would be to read the scrolls of Scripture. He picked the person who would give the message that day. So, he was well known, he was highly esteemed, he was very religious, perhaps even a Pharisee some scholars believe. Now, why would that be important? Because Jesus' greatest enemies at this time were the Pharisee party. So, it would just be interesting to say that here you have a guy who's very religious in Judaism, a hallmark of their worship system, and a Pharisee seeking Jesus.
But he's desperate, right? He's a dad with a girl dying; he'll do anything. Now, this goes to show us that no matter how important you are, no matter how spiritual you are, you are never at a place where trouble cannot find you. Pain is the great equalizer of the human race; it touches everyone. And you can't get so rich and so awesome that you are kept in this little place sheltered from the pains of life. C. S. Lewis used to say, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Pain," he said, "is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
Well, Jairus was roused, and he went looking for Jesus. Whatever his importance, whatever his status, whatever his standing, and whatever his religious affiliation, he is a desperate father. The apple of his eye, that sweet, little girl is at the point of death. So what does he do? He overcomes any pride he might have, he overcomes any prejudice he might have toward Jesus, and he goes off to find him.
Now, this is interesting; he doesn't send his wife to get Jesus. "Honey, you're into this stuff; you go get him." He doesn't send a servant to find Jesus or a friend; he himself gets up to seek after Jesus. And he doesn't come at night like Nicodemus did; he comes during the daylight hours. He comes when there's a crowd of people around him.
In fact, look at verse 40 again. It says, "Jesus returned and the multitude welcomed him, they were all waiting for him." Verse 42, "For he [Jairus] had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as he went, the multitudes"—plural. It's like one group formed, and then another group that heard about Jesus, and another, so there's now crowds of people around him. And this ruler of the synagogue is so desperate that no matter what people think of him or Jesus—"I'm gonna find him."
And he comes and finds him and the text says he bows before him. Matthew, chapter 9, is even stronger. It says, "Behold, a ruler of the synagogue came and worshiped him." Here's the lesson: oh, that men—oh, that dads would seek Jesus Christ in an unashamed manner, unashamed to seek after Jesus Christ, that they would act as priests of their own home. You're a spiritual leader of your home, men, whether you realize it or not. You're either leading your family closer to God, or you're leading them further away from him.
The great Greek philosopher Socrates asked the men of his generation, "Why do you turn and scrape every stone to find wealth, but take so little care of the children to whom one day you will relinquish all." Here's my question: If a pagan Greek philosopher thought that was important, how much more a New Testament Christian father to make a priority of seeking after Jesus Christ? We live in a nation of dads seeking golf balls rather than God on Sundays. To them football is more important than fellowship; fun is more to be sought after than their own families.
I've always found it interesting, there's a text of Scripture found in Ephesians, chapter 6. You know the section, perhaps, because Paul goes through all of the roles of the family. You know, husbands love your wives; wives respond or submit and respect your husbands; children obey your parents. But then he comes to how to deal with children and he addresses parents. But he doesn't address both of them, he just addresses the fathers. And I've always been fascinated by this.
It says in Ephesians 6 verse 4, "Fathers do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and the admonition of Lord." The question is: Why? Why doesn't he say fathers and mothers do this? Why fathers? And I ask that question because it seems that this is a role that mothers and Sunday schoolteachers have taken, because fathers have abdicated it to them. So, why does Paul address fathers? Why does Paul say, "Fathers, don't provoke your kids to wrath. Fathers, train up your children"?
Well, there's a few different reasons, perhaps. Number one, perhaps this was the area of greatest neglect two thousand years ago. Certainly in ancient cultures parenting wasn't huge on dads' radar screens. You know—"Well, I'm in politics. I'm in the marketplace. You, honey, have to do everything else, especially raise the kids." They just didn't do that kind of stuff. It wasn't a family situation where fathers had much to do with raising children.
So, Paul knowing that would say, "Fathers, don't provoke your kids to wrath, you train them up." Perhaps another reason Paul said this to dads is because dads seem to be—maybe not are—but seem to be harsh. They tend to be harsh. Our voices are deeper, boomier, louder, and so they can be more intimidating. We can provoke children to wrath.
Here's a third reason, and here is what I believe is the reason: Paul is simply addressing the head of the home, and because he is addressing the head of the home, it would infer fathers and mothers. But he's saying this to the father, because the father is the head of the home.
Certainly there's a partnership. Certainly if dad goes and works all day, and mom has the ability to stay at home with the kids—I was going to say "luxury," but then that probably wouldn't represent what mothers do at home. Certainly that she's going to spend so much of her time raising those children, but Paul would say, "Don't forget, men, this is a partnership and the responsibility rests upon your shoulders." Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath. you raise them up in training and admonition of the Lord."
Jim Dobson said, "The Western world stands at a great crossroads in its history. It is my opinion that our very survival as a people will depend on the presence or absence of masculine leadership in the home."
The cure for crime is not the electric chair, it's a high chair, and fathers have to have involvement in that. Now, why does so much depend on dad? Why does Paul make a big deal out of this? And why you do, bow-tie preacher, make such a big deal out of it? I'll tell you why, because number one, a child's view of God depends so much upon the father-child relationship. Just the language we use: "Heavenly Father." If a child has a bad relationship with an earthly father, and that child prays "heavenly Father," the mind connotes everything that child has learned from the earthly father, and that's either a good vision or a bad vision. So, much of that child's idea of who Father God is depends on who their earthly father was.
Here's a second reason: your daughter's going to grow up and marry a man someday; she needs to know what kind of a man to look for. Third reason, this is important: your son is going to grow up and marry a woman someday; he needs to know what kind of a man to become. So much depends on masculine leadership. And, so, the negative, and then the positive. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but raise them up." It means actively, positively nurture your child to maturity. Seek Jesus. This father was unashamed to do so.
Well, the story goes on in verse 49, while Jesus is speaking to the woman telling her to be of good cheer, she's healed, go in peace—"Someone came from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, 'Your daughter is dead.' "What do you think his face looked like the moment he heard that phrase? All the blood was drained out of him. He was white as a ghost. The weight of those words—so final, so biting.
Some of you have heard those words before. "Your son is dead." "Your daughter is dead." "Someone you love is dead." I remember what it felt like when my father called me up and said, "Your brother's dead." And I just imagine the weight and the pain when they heard as mom and dad, "Your son is dead."
I love it, "Jesus heard it, and he answered, and he said, 'Do not be afraid' "—in Greek mé phobeó. Don't let this phobia, phobeó, overtake you. "Don't be afraid," that's a command, "only believe, and she will be made well." Now, in Mark's gospel, Mark uses a Greek tense that's present active indicative. That means believe and keep on believing; don't stop what you've already begun. As if so say, "Jairus, you have come with great faith, keep that up. Maintain the faith you initially demonstrated when you came seeking me. Keep it up. Keep believing. Keep moving forward."
Hey, dad, the best example you could give your children is the legacy of a father who kept on believing in Jesus through ups and downs, ups and downs, thick and thin—keep believing. It's what Eugene Peterson called "the long obedience in the same direction." That's a legacy you can leave your children. So, she saw a dad unashamed to see Jesus.
Number two, she saw a dad who brought Jesus home. Look at verse 41. This ruler begged him, Jesus, to come to his house. Verse 51, "When he came into the house." Now we have a little bit of a problem. I don't know if you noticed it in the text, but there's a crowd following Jesus, right? multitudes. And he's at a place in his ministry where everywhere he goes, or whatever he says or does there's a crowd of people that gather around him, and press in on him, and want something from him.
So, wherever he goes, the crowd will go with him. So, here's Jairus, comes where there's a multitude because Jesus is there, and says, "You gotta come to my house. My daughter's sick. She's dying. You gotta come to my house." Jesus comes to the house, but as Jesus comes to the house, who's coming with him? The multitudes.
So, that'll be a little awkward, right? for the husband to come home where a funeral now is starting to gather and—"Uh, honey, I want you to meet Jesus and 450 and my new best friends that are following him wherever he goes." Now, that's why Jesus has to put everybody out in a little bit, and just take a few of his disciples and mom and dad and enter that house, out of respect and out of pragmatics for what is going on.
Now, remember who Jairus is: he's a ruler, he's religious, he was upper echelon, he's upper management in the Jewish system, he's a very important Jewish person with a reputation at stake. And, also, remember who Jesus is, not to us, but to them two thousand years ago. He was very controversial. Here's some of the things they said of Jesus: he's a friend of tax collectors and sinners, he's a glutton, a drunkard, an illegitimate child, and he does miracles by the power of the devil.
So, you've got a ruler of a synagogue dealing with a very controversial spiritual figure, who has lots of names being called him. And he's the kind of a guy you might go here, but you wouldn't invite him into your home at risk of embarrassment, or losing your social status and standing in the community. But he invites Jesus home. And why does he do it? Well, let me piece it together for you, and this is where you need to look at—we won't turn to it, but I've done it, so I'll just share it with you—Matthew, Mark, and Luke together that show this story, because they all tell a little bit different piece of it.
The man comes to Jesus and saying, "My daughter is sick, come and heal her." But then somebody comes and says, "Your daughter is dead." Matthew says knowing that his daughter is now dead, goes to Jesus and says, "Come to my house and lay your hand on her and she will be made well." You're dealing with a ruler of a synagogue who so believes in Jesus that he has power even to raise her from the dead though she has died of natural causes. That's incredible faith. So he seeks Jesus, now he invites Jesus into the home.
Dads, let your children see that you are a dad that invited Jesus into your home. That the Jesus in your home is not just some little picture on a wall or crucifix in a hallway; he's a real person that you have a relationship with in the home. See, if you come to church every Sunday with a Bible—and I hope you do come to church with a Bible; that in and of itself is a statement— it says you live under the authority of God's Word.
But if that's all they see—"Dad brought his Bible to church, but he never opened it Monday through Saturday at home. I know that he went and he prayed when people bowed their heads before a service, but I never saw him pray at home." Let them see the kind of a dad that brings Jesus home to the family in his own life in front of everyone.
Oh, also, when you invite Jesus to be the Lord of your home, you're protecting your home, and that's your responsibility. In ancient days there was a festival called Passover. And you remember how Passover started? In the book of Exodus when the death angel passed through the land of Egypt, it was the tenth plague on the Egyptians. It was the plague where the firstborn of the Egyptians and the children of Israel would be killed unless you put—what?—blood of a lamb on the lintels and the doorpost of the house.
So that the child's security, the families security depended on the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of the house. Who did you think it was—who's responsibility was it to actually dip the hyssop in the blood and put it on the lintels and doorpost? It was the dad's job, the head of the household. So, now the family's security, the firstborn child's security totally depends on the diligence of a father.
Fathers, dads, there's an angel of death passing through the living rooms of this country. Are you aware of it? They breach the walls of your home by your television, your computers, and those little mobile devices we all have. Do you know about it? Are you monitoring it? Are you watching over that?
According to the Internet Filter Review the largest consumer of Internet pornography is the age demographic between twelve years old and seventeen years old. Doesn't stop there, kids are terrorized on the Internet. One in seventeen children, ages ten to seventeen, are threatened or harassed over the Internet. One out of every five children have been propositioned for cybersex on home computers. So what are we doing as dads to apply the blood of the Lamb the Lord Jesus Christ to our homes?
As Martin Luther used to say, "You can't stop birds from flying over your head, but you can certainly stop them from building a nest in your hair." The devil wants to nest in your home, do not let him. Say like Joshua did, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." That's what men need to do. You're the head of the home. Who's the head of you? Is Jesus Lord of you? Are you seeking after him? Are you bringing him into the home?
Third, and finally, she saw a dad who expressed his love for his kids. Verse 51, "When he came into the house, he permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but he said, 'Do not weep; she's not dead, but sleeping' And they ridiculed him, knowing that she was dead." Why would Jesus say this? Because she was dead. Every text in the New Testament that has this story says she died. Jesus uses a metaphor speaking of Christian death, a believer's death—asleep. It's a fitting metaphor because sleep is temporary. If you fall asleep, you will wake up.
When Lazarus was sick and Mary and Martha sent that little postcard to Jesus: "Quick, come, my brother's sick. He's your friend, come and heal him." Jesus read it, put it aside, waited a couple days till he died. And then after he died said to his disciples, "Lazarus is asleep; I'm going to go wake him up." And they didn't get it. They go, "Well, like, if he slept, he'll kind of, like, wake up himself won't he?" And Jesus had to say, "He's dead. He died. I was speaking metaphorically."
When Stephen in the book of Acts was stoned to death, this is how Luke describes his death: "And he fell asleep." So, believing brother and sister, you have no more to fear of death than you do of taking a nap. You fall asleep, your loved one dies, they're going to wake up in a resurrection. That's what Jesus speaks of.
I have a grandson, Seth; he's about three years old. He thinks that taking a nap is punishment. I mean, he rives. I go, "Let's take a nap." "Nooooooo!" [laughter] And I look and I go, "Really? Dude, in a few years you're going to be enlightened, and you're going to see a nap as a reward, not a punishment." But whatever, he doesn't get it. How many of us don't get it? "He died." "Nah, he's just taking a nap, he'll wake up."
"'She's not dead, she's only sleeping.' They ridiculed him." They didn't get it. "He put them all outside, took her by the hand," verse 54, "called, saying, 'Little girl, arise.' And her spirit returned; she rose immediately. And he commanded that she be given something to eat." He's so practical. She probably needs a good meal. Now, you know, at that point mom and dad are going to give her whatever he wants to eat, right? "And her parents were astonished," that's a literary understatement. "But he charged them to tell no one what had happened."
Now, here's the deal: this whole episode was motivated by a father's love for his daughter. It was love that made him go seek Jesus. It was love that had him invite Jesus into the home and risk his status and his standing. It was love. Now, we don't know how long she lived after this. She died at age twelve, she was resurrected a couple days later, or that day presumably, and we would presume that she lived maybe a long life and had her own kids. We don't know how long she lived.
But every single day she lived--a day didn't go by but she didn't remember, "I'm here, I'm alive because my father showed his love for me." And if she had her own children, they would learn about Grandpa who loved his little girl enough to risk everything to find that man Jesus and bring him home. He demonstrated, he showed love to his kids. So, in this this one episode we see a dad unashamed to seek Jesus, he invites Jesus into the home, and he expresses his love for his little girl.
Now, back to that little text I mentioned in Ephesians 6 verse 4, "Fathers, don't provoke your children to wrath, but raise them up"—train them, nurture them, love them, show them, educate them, demonstrate to them, model for them.
Here's another reason I think Paul said, "Fathers do this." I don't think—and I'm going to say this very respectfully. I know I'm treading on some thin ice when you talk to guys like this, but I don't think love comes naturally to us. The demonstration of love doesn't come naturally to men. It does to women. I find it interesting that nowhere in the Bible is there a commandment: wives, love your husbands; only "Husbands, love your wives."
Because wives seem to naturally express love more freely; men don't, so they need to be commanded—love your wives. The Bible does say, "Wives respect your husband," because that seems to be a little harder for some women to do, so that commandment is in place. But for men it's love your wives, nurture and raise up your children, because that doesn't come naturally to us, so we need that reminder, that commandment to do so.
You know what it's like; when you brought your first child home mom kind of knew what to do. Dad didn't have a clue what to do. I'm just speaking now personally here. We brought Nate home from the hospital, I had a medical background, but she just knew that kids' neck muscles were flaccid. They're not developed, so the head sort of bobs around. So, you pick up a child, you always support the head and the body, and they just instinctively do that.
You know, I am holding the kid, like, what's wrong with him? It's like a big bobblehead or something. [laughter] Hopeless. Then Nate would cry and she'd go, "Oh, that's an 'I'm hungry' cry." "How do you know that?" And then another cry, "Oh that's not an 'I'm hungry' cry, that's an 'I'm wet' cry, 'I need to change my diapers' cry." "How do you know that?" They just seem to instinctively know that; men have to be educated and taught that, and we can learn some of these skills. We certainly must learn how to love, and for a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E, time. "If you care about me, you will want to spend time with me, and proactively raise me up."
I close with this, an anonymous father wrote: "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, what sort of house I lived in, or what kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." What a thought—"The world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."
Of course, we can't close without celebrating another Father, our heavenly Father who loved us enough and wanted a relationship with us enough that he would sacrifice his own Son, and send him out of heaven so we could have a relationship and call him Abba, the Bible calls it, daddy, relational Father. That's what he wants with you. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, so wonderful to relate to you in that capacity. We could call you sovereign God, holy omnipotent God, but Jesus said, "When you pray, say, 'Our Father.' "It's relational, it's filial, it's not obtuse, it's not remote, it's close, it's intimate, and so we approach you as that.
And we do it because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary's cross that enabled us to come into this relationship where all of our transgressions are covered, our sins are gone, and we can freely, boldly come before your throne. And so with that example in mind, and with the example that we just read in mind, I pray that we, the fathers of this congregation, would be those who unashamedly seek of Jesus, invite him into the home, and demonstrate love to their family sacrificially, in Jesus' name, amen.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.