"My Father and Your Father"
For years this has been my favorite 5 words out of all the Easter events. It is a wonderful gift, a beautiful "Easter Egg" that holds a hidden gem within it.
You see, Jesus could have done the work of salvation simply so that God could reclaim us as His people. And it would have been enough to have our souls redeemed, and our bodies raised -- so that we could live in God's kingdom. We could be His servants, to do His bidding and be obedient through eternity.
But somehow God always finds a way of doing more and giving more. That's where the words "My Father and your Father" come in.
It was Easter morning, outside the tomb, and Jesus had just surprised Mary Magdalene completely out of her socks (or sandals). When she heard Him call her by name, she turned, saw Him, recognized Him and called Him "Rabboni" (my Rabbi / my Teacher). And then Jesus had to peel her off Him. Imagine the emotion going on in her. "Do not cling to Me ..." (John 20:17) And then, here come those words ...
"Go to My brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.'"
Some of those words are expected. Not surprising. "I am ascending ..." "to My Father ..." "...and your God." But the other parts are remarkable, astonishing, maybe even outrageous!
Jesus then says, "My Father and your Father". He actually makes us a part of the family of God, children of God the Father. You could say these words are our adoption papers. We belong because of Jesus dying on the cross and rising on Easter morning. We are invited to say "Father."
Sometimes I tell the story of one of my friends, back in high school days. He was invited to stay for dinner. We were having spaghetti. During the meal the four Willig boys were saying "Mom, this" and "Mom, that." And then my friend slipped into the pattern, asking for some more of something, "Mom, could I have ...?" There was a slight pause, and a smile and he had that something more. It's an interesting thing to look back on. For that little while he was part of the family -- because he was invited to be.
We are invited to pray and say, "Father." But don't ever forget the cost of that invitation. Jesus had to be one of us. He had to invite us by telling us the Gospel of God who "so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son". And He had to bring us home by carrying us in His own flesh on the cross. We are connected as children by being connected to the Son, the Son of God & God the Son.
So there is the family intimacy. "The Father knows what you need before you ask Him." (Matthew 6:8) "I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever." (John 14:16)
Father, thank You for inviting me back into Your family and into Your love. Your Son Jesus called me and invited me to come back home. And He paid an astonishing price for me. As often as I pray and say "Father" help me to remember how much You have loved me and how Jesus gave Himself for my salvation. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.