When Cain was banished after murdering his brother, Able, the first thing he did was to name his son Enoch then build a city named after his son (Genesis 4:17). As Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has planted eternity in our hearts. For those who seek satisfaction of that desire in this life they live the way of Cain and try to build a legacy that will outlive them.
God had different plans for the descendants of Abraham. They would be His people and He would be their God and His legacy would live forever through them (e.g., Leviticus 26:12). Hence, God placed great emphasis upon fathers taking responsibility for passing on the stories of the Exodus and His laws as specified in Deuteronomy 6.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (Deut.6:4-9, NIV)
Nonetheless, Israel struggled with the lure of idolatry and he sent the prophets to try to woo them to come back to Him. In Hosea 11 he calls them back as a wounded father who does not know what to do. In His anger He might consider wiping them out and starting over; but, He remembers who He is and He remains faithful to Hispromises in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness. A touching passage that speaks to the love of a Father for His children.
And so, after spending three years with Jesus 24/7, watching and listening to Him pray, listening to His words, watching Him heal, cast out demons and raise people from the dead, they believe that the time has come as they gather around the table for the Passover meal. In John 13:31-38 Jesus has just told the disciples that He must go away and that they cannot go with Him. Feeling impending loss and anguish, Jesus pauses to reassure them in a way that leaves no doubt that He has a plan. In John 14 He spells out the plan in straightforward detail, beginning with reminding them about His relationship to His Father.
Jesus begins by assuring them that there is no need to be troubled because His Father has worked it all out, giving them assurance in His provision (vss. 1-4). When Thomas asks where Jesus is going (vs. 5) Jesus tells him that He Himself is the only path to the father; there is no other way to know Him. Consequently, to know Christ is to know The Father; therefore, they know His Father because they know Him (vss. 6-7).
Phillip’s request for Jesus to show them the Father Himself is answered with a reaffirmation that, indeed, they have been looking right at Him in Jesus. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus says (vs. 9b). Their relationship is so symbiotic that Jesus clarifies that He Himself is “in the Father” and that “the Father is in me” (vs. 10). In fact, the very words and activities of Jesus are those of His Father (vs. 11). Believing what He is telling them is the key to doing even greater works. Why? Because Jesus is leaving to return to the side of His Father. The result will be that they can ask anything in Jesus’ name and He will do it “so that the Father maybe glorified in the Son” (vss. 11-14).
At this point there is a logical question that naturally emerges because of our own finite limitations in understanding how anyone can be in two places at one time. Jesus and the Father are one, Jesus is leaving to be with His Father so that He can give them whatever they ask for in His name, wherever they are, whenever they ask. For this to happen two things need to happen. First, in their love for Jesus–and, by extension, His Father–they need to obey His commands. At the same time they are doing this, Jesus promises that He will appeal to the Father to send another Advocate to help them and to live with them forever: The Spirit of Truth (vss. 15-17). They are already acquainted with Him because He presently lives with them through Jesus while He is physically among them, and, in the future, will take up residence within them (vs. 17).
Jesus’ promise to them is that they will not be left as Fatherless orphans because through His Advocate, the Holy Spirit, He will come to them from His place beside His Father that He spoke of earlier. In fact, this is beyond the world’s ability to comprehend because it is on the eternal, permanent, spiritual plane where Jesus lives and they, too, will live from now on as they come to understand (vss. 18-19). On the day they do understand, they will realize that Jesus is in His Father, they are in Him and He is in them and they will keep His commands because of their love for Him. Consequently, they will be loved by both Him and His Father.
What a Father! What a great Father’s Day gift! To know that Jesus has not left us to figure it out all on our own but that He has given us His Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will make His presence–and His Father’s presence–real for us in a realm that transcends our reality and reaches into eternity.
That is how followers of Christ can possibly forgive and express sympathy for a person who just shot and killed their friends and during a mid-week prayer service only days before. Intimately linked to the Father and His Son through the agency of the Holy Spirit, their perspective transcends the horror of the moment and the depth of their grief to a plane that the world does not understand nor comprehend.