Our Heavenly Father

Our children will find a father in their God if they can see God in their fathers. Our heavenly Father is our model for earthly fatherhood. In the four gospels, Jesus uses the expressions “our Father” and “you Father” some sixty-eight times. He wants them and us to see in God all of the characteristics and attributes we look for in an earthly father. In this lesson we’re going to look at the way God’s fatherhood is portrayed in a few of Jesus’ parables; how He responds to us and how we should respond to Him.

The Prodigal Son’s Father

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables to those who trust in their own righteousness and look down upon those they view as spiritually unworthy. He speaks of one sheep lost of a hundred, one coin lost of ten, then, finally, one son lost of two. We know the parable of the prodigal son who leaves his home to live foolishly and wastefully. We know how the son returns in humility and how the father responds in love as well as the jealous reaction of the brother. We see God reflected in the father’s reactions to both of these sons.

At various times, we are both the younger son and the older son to our heavenly Father. The Father loves both of these sons and longs to see them both reconciled. He is constantly vigilant in seeking the one who is lost – even seeing the returning son from a great distance. He wants his sons to walk in truth. III John 4 expresses joy in spiritual children walking in truth, and II Timothy 1:2-3 records Paul’s joy and thankfulness for Timothy’s (one like a son to Paul) spiritual growth.

This father in Luke 15 is quick to forgive his son’s transgressions. I John 1:9 reminds us that our heavenly Father is as quick to forgive us when we turn from our own transgressions. Then, he encourages the older son to be as forgiving. He demonstrates the love and patience he would have that older son demonstrate. Though he deals with his sons differently, one needing forgiveness and the other encouragement, his standard of goodness remains the same. Through this father, we see a reflection of God.

The Fathers of Matthew 21 and 22

Matthew 21:28 tells of a father with two sons. The father asks both to work the vineyard. One refuses, then repents and works. The second says he will work but does not. Jesus compares these sons to the sinners who respond to God’s word versus those who consider themselves spiritual while ignoring God’s word.

Then Matthew 22:1-14 pictures a Father preparing a wedding feast. He invites friend and family who refuse to come, some even murder the messengers. These invite destruction upon themselves. Finally, the father invites any who would come from the streets. We see immediate generosity in this father toward anyone who accepts his invitation, but he is also executes justice against those who abuse those who are his and those who remain unprepared.

Finally Matthew 21:33-41 illustrates a father who leases his vineyard to farmers. It is a well-prepared vineyard with a fence around it, an onsite wine-press, and a tower for defense. He entrusts this vineyard to others who refuse to honor him. These farmers beat and kill servants sent by the father to collect homage. Finally, he sends his only son, but these farmers kill the son as well. This father is patient with those tenants, even sending his own son to correct them. The implications of the parable are clear.


Our heavenly Father sacrificially sent His innocent Son so we may lose our guilt and become His spiritual children. He has blessed us generously. He has prepared a place for us and seeks for us to come to Him. He loves us, and He diligently seeks our love in return. He is always waiting for our repentance. He is always waiting for us to return to Him. He is patient with us. He is the epitome of fatherhood, and we can be His simply by coming to Him on His turns.

lesson by Tim Smelser