This week I spoke with a friend who, this past Sunday, was able to celebrate fathers day with her husband for the fist time. They had been trying to have a baby for a long time.
For all that our Hallmark holiday is a celebration of the parent, for the parent the day conjures up all the memories of the child–especially the birth.
When I saw my firstborn, I thanked her for being the one who made me a father. She thought I was weird, but got over it.
In Ephesians 3:15 speaks of God as the father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. God’s own fatherhood is not simply about an eternal begetting of an eternal son. His is a fatherhood that has moments of celebration as new children come into the world.
When God creates humanity, God fashions for Himself his firstborn children upon the earth. That’s part of what “image and likeness” means:
This is the list of the descendants of Adam. When God created humankind, he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them ‘Humankind’ when they were created.
When Adam had lived for one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. (Gen 5:1-3, NRSV)
Do you see how God’s relationship to Adam & Eve is the same as Adam’s to Seth? The father has a child in his own image and in his own likeness.
Now, for God’s children, that originally meant, as well, that these children should rule for him (Gen 1:26-28). That will be important to bear in mind.
Of course, in the unfolding story, God has other children as well. He says to Pharaoh, “Let Israel, my firstborn son, go!” Israel plays the role of God’s child which is “originally” the job of all humanity.
But the focalizing continues.
Within Israel, God chooses a particular son who will fulfill that primordial vocation of ruling for God. It is the Davidic King:
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’
I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
today I have begotten you. (Psalm 2, NRSV)
When the king is enthroned, the one who was already God’s son because part of Israel, which was already in a sense God’s son because part of ‘Adam, becomes God’s son afresh. It’s a new day of begetting or adopting.
It’s father’s day all over again.
Easter is the consummation of this recurring story of the God who begets children, sons and daughters to rule the world on God’s behalf.
Paul says, “He was appointed son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection from the dead.”
Jesus becomes the representative, ruling king, the son of God, as he is raised from the dead.
Jesus, at the resurrection, becomes a second Adam embodying within himself a destiny of life, even as the first embodied a destiny of death (1 Cor 15). As the first Adam was created son-ruler, Jesus at the resurrection is re-created son-ruler.
Easter creates a new, eternal Fathers Day–the one that enables God to claim fatherhood over an eternal family of those who will be God’s children forever.
At the resurrection, Jesus becomes firstborn brother of a new, large family, such that we all are conformed to his resurrection-likeness (Rom 8).
Easter initiates an eternal Fathers Day as Jesus becomes the eternal king, inheriting the throne of David:
And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
“You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.”
As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
“I will give you the holy promises made to David.” (Acts 13, NRSV)
As long as the church must say, “Jesus is Lord,” it must also say “Jesus is Messiah, the son of God.” And this means that it is still Easter.
And, as long as it is Easter it is the Day on which God became father of Jesus, and of the eternal humanity that is joined to him.