As a child growing up in a liturgical church, I somehow absorbed the notion that God the Father was the austere, angry God of the Old Testament, while Jesus was the gentler, kinder God of the New Testament. You may laugh, but sadly, many adult believers have the same concept of God, although they might not realize it. In addition, in today’s culture, so many people have grown up in broken or dysfunctional homes that the concept of “father” is not a warm and fuzzy thought.
God wants to restore to His Church a true image of Who He is as Father, and in the process, also restore to the family unit an image of godly fatherhood. He is the best of fathers, and even those who have not had a good earthly father can be healed by His love and enjoy their relationship with God as their Father.
The light bulb came on for me about God the Father’s true nature as I read Hebrews 1:3: “[Jesus] being the brightness of his [God’s] glory and the express image of his person….” That term “express image” means an exact stamp, and when I got hold of the revelation that Jesus is a carbon copy of His Father, my whole perspective on Who God the Father is changed.
Jesus said the same thing. In John 14:8-11, Philip asked Jesus to reveal the Father to the disciples. Jesus responded, “Have I been such a long time with you, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. … Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak of myself, but the Father who dwells in me, he does the works.” At an earlier time, Jesus had said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). We have to get this somehow: everything good that we know about Jesus — His mercy, kindness, patience, love — is equally true of the Father. He is not a vindictive God sitting up in heaven, waiting for us to do something wrong so that He can clobber us. Father loves us.
There are some who have a hard time with the idea that a loving heavenly Father would actually send His own dear Son to such a cruel death as the cross. What they have missed is that Jesus willingly “for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). What joy? The joy of having us forever with Him and the joy of the greater glory such an unthinkable sacrifice would accomplish.
The plan of salvation was mutually agreed upon between Father and Son before the worlds were created (Ephesians 1:4, 5 and 1 Peter 1:19, 20). We must understand that a higher love than we humans are capable of was demonstrated by both the Father and the Son — a love that caused Them both to make the ultimate sacrifice so that man, the undeserving creation, could be redeemed into everlasting fellowship with God once again. John 3:16 has become so familiar that we gloss over the profound depths of what it is saying. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”
The Father is love, beyond all that we are capable of fathoming.