Focus on Jesus Series
Dedicated Fathers: The Norm in Israel
Notes on Mark 9:14-29, Matthew 17:14-20, Luke 9:37-43
by Ed Vasicek
In today's sermon, we see the account of a father who pours his heart out to Jesus because he craves to have his son healed of demonic possession. You cannot help but seen how the father extends himself with all he has on behalf of his son. As a rule, the Jewish people took the role of fatherhood as a sacred trust, a primary calling of life. As a result, when the Jews walked with God, they exemplified solid morality, strong family, and lived balanced, meaningful lives. Verses like the ones below presuppose a culture where dads take their roles to heart.
Hebrews 12:5-10 "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness."
Psalms 103:13 "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him."
Alfred Edersheim, a Messianic Jewish scholar who wrote over a century ago, penned these words:
The general state of Jewish society shows us parents as fondly watching over their children, and children as requiting their care by bearing with the foibles, and even the trials, arising from the caprices of old age and infirmity. Such things as undutifulness, or want of loving consideration for parents, would have wakened a thrill of horror in Jewish society. As for crimes against parents…they seem happily to have been almost unknown....
The Rabbinical ordinances, however, also specified the obligation of parents, and limited their power. Thus a son was considered independent whenever he could gain his own living; and, although a daughter remained in the power of her father till marriage, she could not, after she was of age, be given away without her own express and free consent. A father might chastise his child, but only while young, and even then not to such an extent as to destroy self-respect. But to beat a grown-up son was forbidden on pain of excommunication… [Edersheim, Alfred, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p.99]
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