11th Sunday after Pentecost
August 25, 2019
“Who’s Your Daddy?”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our Good Shepherd Jesus. The basis for the sermon this morning is today’s Second Lesson from Hebrews chapter 12.
My dear friends,
I think the first time I ever heard the phrase “Who’s Your Daddy” would be listening to music as a kid with my parents. They liked music from the 50’s and 60’s. I remember the 1968 song “Time of the Season” by The Zombies. It has that famous lyric “What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? Is he rich like me?” Ugh…hippies. That was probably the first time, but it wouldn’t be the last. When I was in college, we had a TON of catch phrases that we used. Before every game, we’d say “Pitter Patter, let’s get at ‘er.” After every game, we’d say “win or lose, hit the booze.” And during a game? We were likely to say all kinds of things, most of which cannot be repeated in church. If someone threw a big hit or scored a nice goal or if our goalie made a nice save, we’d inevitably yell “who’s your daddy!” Strange, I know, but it was the 1980s and we were college kids. What would you expect, Shakespeare quotes? Not happening.
Who’s your daddy? Oddly enough, that phrase still means a number of things to a number of different people. Today I want to take this popular phrase and use it in an appropriate way to explain kind of a difficult subject…God’s discipline. Today we’ll see three things about God’s discipline: first, we know who our heavenly Father is because he disciplines us; second, his discipline of us doesn’t come close to what he put his own Son through at the cross; third, because of the cross, we are a part of God’s family.
First of all, we know who our heavenly Father is because he disciplines us. The thing is, God’s discipline is often misinterpreted. Many have the idea of God the Father as an angry father in the sky always ready to judge and condemn and punish. Now, the truth is that our sins deserve that! At times, God disciplines us, even though we deserve wrath and punishment. We are disciplined…corrected…but punishment for sin is a different matter and we’ll come back to that later.
Another reason we misinterpret God’s discipline is because of the experience we have had with our earthly fathers. Hey, I got in trouble when I was a kid and I’m sure you did too. I knew I could push more buttons with mom than dad. Even still, my dad’s discipline was often imperfect at best. There were times when I was punished unfairly (mowing job at Howard’s). But there were also times when I got away with some things without being punished. An earthly father’s discipline is imperfect; it is inconsistent and inaccurate. Our Heavenly Father – God the Father’s discipline is more than perfect. It is necessary.
Why does God discipline us? I’ll answer your question with a question. Why did you discipline your own children? Today’s lesson from Hebrews 12 answers that in verses 10: “He disciplines us for our good.” Wait…what? I thought God was all about love and grace and forgiveness. Discipline is for our good? Well…yeah. When it comes to God…yeah.
This truth is confirmed in v 11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” So…when we are “disciplined” by God in this life, it happens for our good so that later on we can yield the fruits of righteousness? Isn’t that why you disciplined your children? Not because it was fun or you enjoyed it. You did so so that they would make better decisions later in life. In other words, the harsh things that I endure now shape me into who God needs me to be enabling me to accept my albeit painful past, treasure my present, and now entrust my future to God through Christ? Well, when we put it that way, discipline sounds pretty good actually!
Secondly, remember that the discipline our heavenly Father applies to us is nothing compared to the punishment he put his Son through at the cross. Our sins deserve not mere discipline, but punishment. There is a BIG difference. I was disciplined frequently by my father growing up but actual punishment was extremely rare. I can only remember one time of being spanked as a form of punishment. Once; didn’t happen again. Sin, in any amount, any way (thought, word, or deed), deserves not discipline, but eternal wrath and punishment. A spanking or a time out are not going to cut it; “the wages of sin is death.”
That’s why Jesus came! He “endured from sinners such hostility” (Heb 12:3). His blood shed on the cross does away with the old covenant and creates a new covenant, and a blood covenant is a BIG deal! Through the blood shed on the cross, our sins are forgiven—all of them, once and for all. Jesus endures God’s most severe punishment so that one day we can stand before God the Father not as disobedient children but as holy and righteous and redeemed because we are the recipients of the new covenant promise with God through the shed blood of Christ Jesus.
In a truly biblical irony, the cross of Christ shows us our heavenly Father’s love for us. Through the cross, we are assured that by faith we are a part of God’s family and he is our Father. And that is what we have here at Good Shepherd…a family. This is our family home. We become a part of the family of God through Holy Baptism. We come here to rest, to share our lives with those around us, and to be nourished. Every time we come, we receive divine gifts – the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation by Word and Sacrament. In Holy Communion, our heavenly Father provides for us with Christ’s true body and blood in the bread and wine, giving us in it forgiveness and endurance—strength to live the new life in Christ as a part of the family…this family…your family.
Who’s your daddy? If this were a rink and I yelled that, any number of things could have happened. But here…in this place…it means something different. The cross, which has the prominent spot in our church home, gives us the answer, unlike our world today. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer in a little bit, I would prefer you keep the usual wording and not say “Our daddy.” But today, maybe for the first time, when you say, “Our Father,” you will have a renewed confidence in his loving care for you even when he disciplines because you know that it’s preparing all people for a better, more eternal future, including the hippies and their wacky music.