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Fathers’ Day Sermon

MATTHEW 1:18-25 & ROMANS 8:12-17

Here’s a sermon for you to file for next Fathers’
Day (or, if you’re a dad, to stop right now and read! It was preached
by my wife Rev. Jan Croucher, children’s and family pastor at
Syndal Baptist Church, Melbourne, Australia.

Shalom! Rowland Croucher


Fathers’ Day – great day, the kids brought you presents
and may be breakfast in bed, some of you received hand made cards
and greetings. Many older fathers will be having family home for
lunch or dinner, and you’ll (be glad when it’s over) – be made
to feel it was all worthwhile.

– not the case with everyone here today – some of
you have sad memories of a father who mistreated you, even rejected
you – some of you dads are hurting because you know there will
be no contact today with a child you loved – there may be someone
here who has abused a child and the guilt is overwhelming


My own dad was an unhappy man with a violent temper.
He whipped his belt off frequently to use on one or all of his
6 children. But I recall in my first year in high school winning
the prize for mathematics and having to go up on stage to receive
it. As I turned I glanced at my parents and saw on my father’s
face the most amazing beam of pride. That beam carried me through
many of the traumas that lay ahead. Unfortunately, I always felt
I had to earn my father’s love and I recognise the inevitable
transference of that attitude when I came to meet my heavenly

– ‘Family’ – the centre of our lives – despairing
parents, questioning the popular culture where logos on clothes
are more valued than the values of the heart. – recognised those
who were helping children such as doctors, the police etc but
challenged everyone with the responsibility for seeing that our
community acts in ways that value faamily. – she emphasised the
need for every child to feel special, and challenged the nations
leaders to support parents in this job. – change is certain but
progress is not – we can’t always control the changes that come
but we can turn them with effort into progress


Both Matthew and Luke explain the fact that Joseph
was not the physical father of Jesus, but that Jesus was conceived
of the Holy Spirit and born to a virgin. Having God as His real
Father must have made a difference, but we know Jesus was also
fully human.

When we begin to focus on Joseph it’s disappointing
to find just how little biographical information is given to us
in Scripture. About all we know of him is that he was a descendent
of David from the village of Bethlehem and that he was a carpenter.
He seems to have migrated north to the town of Nazareth snd there
became engaged to the young woman, Mary. The inference is that
he may have been older than Mary, and may have died before Jesus
commenced his public ministry. We do know that he was alive when
Jesus went to Jerusalem at the age of 12, and that is the last
mention of him in the gospel record. Years later when Jesus performed
his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, His mother was
there and presumably alone, maybe a widow. These are the meagre
facts we have as a framework for Joseph’s life.

However there’s a rather illuminating sequence of
events that enable us to look deeply into his character. It was
a time of personal crisis for Joseph. During the time of their
engagement Joseph learned that his bride to be was pregnant and
he knew that the child could not be his. This must have come as
a staggering blow to him, and observing his reaction is a telling
indicator of what he was really like. John Claypool suggests that
three qualities in Joseph provide clues to the developing character
of Jesus:

1. He demonstrated mercy. Assuming Mary had been
unfaithful was perfectly natural and so would bursting into a
rage have been, because when we humans are hurt, our first reaction
is to want to hurt back. But this was not the course he chose
to take. After mulling it over in his mind he decided to ‘divorce
her quietly’ v19. Joseph is described as a ‘just man’, which meant
he regulated his life by the Jewish law, and this law called for
a woman caught in adultery to be publicly stoned. But Joseph was
‘unwilling to put her to shame’ which means that not even his
own hurt or legal considerations could over rule his compassion
for Mary. He was serious enough about what had happened to plan
to divorce her, but the fact of human imperfection did not blind
him to the fact that here was a human being with feelings. So
is it any wonder that years later the Young Man who was nurtured
by this kind of father, would say to a fallen woman ‘My friend,
I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more. I came to be part of
the answer for sinful people, not to add to their burden.’ In
fact the compassion that Joseph shows here can be seen all through
Jesus’ ministry.

2. As Joseph moved further into his crisis a second
characteristic comes to light – an openness to incredible possibilities.
As Joseph set about to dissolve their engagement quietly Mary
no doubt shared with him what had occurred to her when first the
angel and then the Holy Spirit had come and the story must have
been very much on his mind. First he had learned that his fiance
was pregnant, he’d managed to work through his feelings to the
point he was not going to humiliate her and now she tells him
that God was in it, things were not as he supposed but full of
a mystery beyond imagining. It was almost more than his mind could
handle, and Matthew says he ‘considered it’. Now what would most
men have done – laughed her to scorn I’m sure – ridiculed the
very suggestion as preposterous – ‘You’ve got to be kidding’.
But Joseph wasn’t an ordinary man. He had already shown an extraordinary
capacity for compassion, and now he is displaying an amazing acceptance
of wonder and mystery. He wasn’t one to say ‘Because I can’t understand
it, it is not possible’. What Gabriel had said to Mary, Joseph
obviuosly believed – ‘with God all things are possible’. He didn’t
arrogantly throw the word ‘impossible’ around, neither did he
impose limits on God. And lo and behold that night in a dream
the angel confirmed all that Mary was saying was in fact true.
Only one who has a great sense of openness could have accepted
such a possibility. This is the nature of faith – being willing
to let God be God and not restrict him to our narrow limits. We
tend to decide beforehand what is possible and what is impossible
and refuse to look beyond these self-imposed limits. Who are we,
as creatures in this vast universe which we didn’t make, to define
what can and cannot be? Who of us is an absolute authority? Yet
we continually assume this role and so drastically reduce the
possibilities before us.

But not so with Joseph. I believe he helped Jesus
to relate positively to the mystery of life, and Jesus was helped
to a right vision of the Father in heaven by the kind of father
he had on earth. If we really want to participate with God in
our day and age such an openness to the incredible is essential.

3. A willingness to venture out on the basis of his
‘hunches’. Let’s not think this was easy. There’s no way to prove
the accuracy of dreams ahead of time. So there was risk involved
here but this was the path Joseph decided on – as outlandish as
it seemed to common sense. So with nothing more than Mary’s word
and the testimony of a dream, Joseph took a pregnant woman with
a child not his own to be his wife. And once committed there were
several adjustments he had to make. We all know that Joseph had
to comply with the Roman Census, but it could well have been that
Joseph took Mary away from the nagging tongues of Nazareth. He
had the good sense not to push the point there because he didn’t
really expect others to believe the story. All this says to me
that Joseph was not just a decisive man but a very sensitive one
too. He was willing to trust the type of guidance that more cautious
souls would back away from, and this sensitivity paid off again
and again as he moved his little family to Egypt to avoid Herod
and then back to Nazareth rather than Bethlehem because of the
political climate. Joseph was profoundly aware of what was going
on around him, and he had the courage to act on his hunches. His
courage of course came from his trust – in Mary, in the angel
and in his own experience of truth. And we now know that Joseph
was not disappointed – look who came into the world – a Son Who
was able again and again to recognise when his hour had come and
to venture forth with courage and purpose.

So this has given a little insight into the man Joseph.
We’ve seen him around for many years but only in the background
of the manger. But I understand why God entrusted his only Son
into the care of this man. What better atmosphere could Jesus
have known in growing up than an earthly father who was so compassionate
of others, so open to God, and so decisive in his own person.

It is a challenge to all fathers to recognise the
profound influence thay have on their children. Psychotherapists
today are saying that both parents are vitally important to the
stable development of their children – the mother’s input is invaluable
in the formative pre-adolescent years but the father’s most important
influence is at adolescence. In pre- industrial cultures fathers
worked alongside their sons and taught them their trade. The father
led the adolescent son into manhood and the book titled ‘Absent
Fathers Lost Sons’ addresses this issue. Adolescent daughters
long to hear from their fathers that they are beautiful and loved.
In fact a girl’s choice of partner and satisfaction in marriage
is often directly related to the relationship she had with her

I’ve been talking to you who are fathers about the
importance of fathering. But there are two other situations I
want to look briefly at. Some of you are thinking about your own
father and praising God for good modelling. Some of you are sad
about a father who dominated or was absent. Remember how God chose
Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly father. When I came to know my heavenly
Father at 15, I was overwhelmed by his love for me. He led me
to Paul’s words: ‘I have learned in whatever state I am to be
content’ and I began to see my father as God’s gift to me – the
one chosen to provide for me. And later in life when I had teenagers
of my own, who started to show that they had actually developed
minds of their own, I wrote to my Dad, who by now had returned
to the west and settled in a ghost town north of Kalgoorlie. I
apologised for any pain I may have caused him, thus contributing
to his frustration. He wrote back and for the first time I could
remember he said he had always loved me. And for the first time
ever he apologised to me – for stating the night I was to be baptised
that if I went through with it I need not return home. This was
the beginning of a dialogue with my father that continued by letter,
and when he went missing out there in the desert there was grief
but not the grief that goes along with unresolved matters. My
dad has never been found but as my older brother and sister and
I travelled across the Nullarbor two months later for a memorial
service I remember saying ‘You know, inspite of everything we
did love Dad, didn’t we?’ They each answered affirmatively and
we continued on our way singing some of the songs he had taught
us in our earlier and happier years.

It’s never too late to put things right with your
father. It takes courage to start, but much healing will take
place if you do. Well, your father has passed away, that is surely
too late. I heard someone say not too long ago that he had a deep
longing to tell his father he was sorry and that he loved him,
but it was too late so in the end he said to the Lord ‘You know
I can’t talk to him any longer, would you tell him I’m sorry’

Now that last category. There may be some father
here who has badly abused his daughter or even his son. My husband
and I get involved with people who come through our home who have
been horrifically abused by their fathers. These people have indescribable
pain for their entire lives. One lady, abused from early childhood
has had to move interstate and has even changed her name in order
to hide from her parents. To this very day she has nightmares
every night – she sees her father’s face.

How wonderful if this father’s day there could be
reconciliation as our families meet for Father’s Day. What a tremendous
responsibility our nations’ fathers have. You who know and love
the Lord have the resources to be the fathers God wants you to
be. In closing I would like you to turn with me to Romans 8:12.
Read it.

Only the Spirit of God could cause Joseph to have
such compassion, to be so open to God’s supernatural power, and
to be so decisive in his own person. Verse 14 of Romans 8 goes
on to say that if you are led by the Spirit of God you are a child
of God, and this entitles you to use that very intimate word ‘Abba’,
used only of your own father never to refer to someone else’s
– that precious relationship that we as children can have with
our heavenly Father.


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  1. Since I am preparing for my sermon.it help alot or give me many idea and understanding. which I ever though.

    thank yoy
    in His Service

    Posted by pastor. cin khan tuang | June 18, 2016, 1:00 am