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On the third Sunday of June, we are given the opportunity to reflect with thanksgiving on the blessings of our fathers. We buy cards, neckties, and golf balls to show our appreciation to those who worked so hard to raise us, train us, and provide for us.

We are especially thankful for faithful Christian fathers who took seriously the Lord’s call to “. . . bring [their children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). In addition to making sure their children had food, clothing, and shelter, these faithful fathers made sure they heard the Word of God. They brought their children to Sunday school and church services. They led family devotions and prayers. They taught their children about Jesus.

Father’s Day is also an opportunity for fathers to give thanks to God for their children. While children are the joy of most fathers, there can be no greater joy for a Christian father than to see his children following the Lord Jesus. “Whoever loves wisdom [in particular Christian wisdom, the wisdom of Scripture] makes his father rejoice” (Proverbs 29:3).

If we are being honest with ourselves and our God, we will find another emotion that affects us on Father’s Day. Namely, guilt. Guilt for times we did not give our fathers the love and respect that God commanded. Guilt for the hard time we gave Dad when he tried to get us to work on our memory work or how he almost had to drag us to church on Sunday.

Honest fathers will also wrestle with guilt. Guilt for the times when we disciplined our children out of frustration and anger, rather than in love and patience. Guilt for the times we failed to be the spiritual shepherd of our own homes, when we put worldly things ahead of the spiritual needs of our children.

Therefore, let us not take our eyes off of Jesus—even on Father’s Day! And what do we find in Jesus? Faithfulness! Though Jesus was actually His step-father’s God and Lord, we stand in awe as we read in Luke 2, “[Jesus] went down with them [Mary and Joseph] and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them” (Luke 2:51). Though Jesus was far greater than Joseph, Jesus subjected Himself to (placed Himself under) Joseph and gave him perfect love and respect. Jesus stood in our place and was a faithful son
to His step-father.

As we read on in Jesus’ life, we continue to be amazed at what a faithful son He was. When the horrifying shadow of Calvary’s cross loomed on the horizon, He prayed to His heavenly Father, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). What the Father was asking His faithful Son to do was beyond comprehension. The Son was to suffer for the sins of unfaithful children and fathers. Yet there was no whining or complaining to His Father that “It’s not fair!” Instead, this Son continued to be faithful to His Father, desiring most of all that His Father’s will would be done. Jesus was “. . . obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

As we wrestle with a mix of emotions on Father’s Day (it is on the Lord’s Day—Sunday, June 21), let us gather together in the Lord’s house and beneath the cross of Christ to view with repentance and rejoicing the faithful Son of God Who died to cleanse father and child alike from all their unfaithfulness. Having forgiveness for our unfaithfulness, let us continue to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for all His faithful blessings, especially the blessing of Christian fathers!

Nathan Pfeiffer is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Spokane, Washington.