Advent [Session 3]
We are all deeply influenced by our fathers, for good and for bad. Our relationship, or lack of a relationship, with our fathers influences our view of God, the Everlasting Father. We often project the hurts and hang-ups we received from our earthly fathers onto God. But, as J.D. taught, we need to flip that perspective. Instead of seeing God as a heavenly version of our earthly fathers, we need to see our earthly fathers—in their faults and in their goodness—as flawed representatives of our Everlasting Father.
The good news we find in Jesus is that our heavenly Father is far greater than our earthly fathers. Even the best father is just a shadow of who God is as our Father. J.D. mentioned a few different types of fathers in the video, each one very unlike our Everlasting Father.
The first type of earthly father J.D. discussed was the Never Satisfied Dad. This type of father is a task master, a father whose expectations we can never meet.
Our Everlasting Father is not holding a list of our failures, shortcomings, and unmet to-dos. To show us an accurate picture, J.D. referenced Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Instead of piling work and expectations on to you, God “quiets you with love.”
We might also see God as a Time-Bomb Dad, slow to show affection and quick anger. God is not a Time-Bomb Dad, ready to blow up when we don’t meet his expectations. God, your Father, looks for ways to love you. J.D. used Psalm 23:6 to show us what God’s love looks like: “Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (WMB)”
You don’t have to fearfully avoid God. He does not follow you with judgment and simmering anger. His eager love should make us want to be with him, rather than hide from him.
The third type of father J.D. talked about was the Emotionally Distant Dad, the kind of father who was around your whole life, but you never were close to. We were made to feel that he was too busy for us or that we were not a priority in his life.
God loves us so much that he could not stand being separated from us. He sent his Son to die in our place so that we might spend eternity with him. God actively works to be near and known by you.
The final earthly father J.D. taught on was the Absent Father. This father left us with a life soundtrack of rejection and unimportance.
Jesus is our Everlasting Father. Jesus did not abandon us when we—his enemies—killed him. Our sin rested on his shoulders and he did not walk away. Even death cannot separate us from him. You are more important to Jesus than you can imagine.
Read the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32.
If you grew up in church, you have probably heard or read this parable before. This time let’s focus on the father and his love for his wayward son.
In verses 18–19, the younger son practices an apology he plans on giving to his father. In verses 20–23 the father does not wait for the son’s apology before kissing him and welcoming him home. In fact, he does not even let the son finish his apology and orders a feast of celebration in his son’s honor. This parable is Jesus’s picture of God’s love for us. Our Father rushes out to meet us with love and celebration.
This is the only parable where Jesus does not end with an application. This parable is meant to make us recognize God’s love for us as a restored son or daughter. We are meant to sit in awe of God’s great love for us.
It is easy to think that God is like our earthly fathers or father figures. But that perspective is backwards; on their best day, our fathers are hazy pictures of the majesty of our Everlasting Father. God is not distant. He is not angry. He is not waiting for us to get our act together.
God, your Father, loves you deeply. He wants to be with you. He sent Jesus so that you might call him Father and be called his son, his daughter. He is your Everlasting Father.
Read: Read Luke 15:11–32. J.D. pointed out that this is the only parable without an application. As a result, we are simply meant to “behold” our loving father. As you read this passage, make a note of everything the father does so that you might “behold” all of his goodness.
Pray Pray that God would show you his goodness as your heavenly Father. Ask that his love might be overwhelmingly apparent to you as you seek to know him more closely.
Memorize Memorize 1 John 3:1a, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
Watch Session 3 video: Everlasting Father (11 minutes).
Review the study guide for Session 3. This excerpt was taken from this guide and includes the complete lesson with questions and additional insights.
An additional Christmas resource from J.D. Greear you may find helpful is his book, Searching for Christmas.