The following sermon was preached by my pastor, Mike Hamby, on Father’s Day at our church. It was a personal encouragement to me. I trust it may help you too.
Sermon Title: Honor Your Father and Mother
Sermon Text: Exodus 20:12
Sermon Series: The Ten Commandments for Today
Introduction: As we come to the 5th commandment this morning, we are beginning to look at what is often called the second table of the law. On the first table are the first four commandments, which teach us how to love God with all our hearts. On the second table are the final six commandments, which teach us how to love our neighbor as ourselves.
That being said, it is interesting that the entire second table of the law should begin with honor your father and mother. Think of it, more fundamental than not stealing, more fundamental than not committing adultery, more fundamental than not murdering; honor your father and mother. Thomas Watson said, “By the first table, we walk religiously towards God; by the second, we walk religiously towards man.” And Watson goes on to note that the 5th commandment is so important that some of the Jews included it on the first table as though we had not performed our whole duty to God till we had paid this debt of honor to our natural parents!
Colossians 3:20 says, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
And listen to how the Heidelberg Catechism explains our duty in the 5th commandment in answer to question 104. “What does God require in the 5th commandment?” “That I show all honor, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother and to all in authority over me. Submit myself with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction and also bear patiently with their infirmities since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.”
There can be no doubt that the 5th commandment extends into the New Testament and let there be no doubt as well, that the 5th commandment extends beyond our childhood years. I’m well aware than most of our youngest children have been taken captive back to the children’s department. If you invite me over for dinner some night I can preach this sermon to them in your home perhaps! But we were all children once and this commandment remains relevant whatever our age! Today the 5th commandment is a foundation for life and a freedom in life that each and every one of us desperately need no matter how old we are.
I. Honoring father and mother is a foundation of life.
The first part of this verse is a command for every child to obey and honor his or her earthly parents. The Hebrew word behind the English honor is kaved; kaved carries the idea of weightiness, so we are to give weight to our parents. We might say it like this, ‘You should give your parents a ton of respect!’ This is the duty of every child and it sets the pattern for how that child will relate to every other authority structure in life. Children do not come out of the womb honoring their parents. Rather, Scripture teaches us that we are born in sin and in our sin we will be automatic rebels against our parents. But parents are given by God to children to serve as His lieutenants and honoring father and mother is the foundation that prepares little hearts to honor God.
Augustine once asked rhetorically: ‘If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will spare?’ So in the home children are under the authority of their parents and children are to honor that God ordained authority. But the truth is that we live under some kind of authority all the days of our lives. I’m reminded of the young man who said that he’d had enough of his parent’s rules, he wanted freedom, so he was leaving. Someone asked ‘Well where to plan to go to get away from your parents and their rules?” The young man said ‘I’m going to join the Marines.” We cannot escape authority in our lives and the truth is that although authority is often abused, God has ordained that we live under it for our own good.
We’re under the authority of Government ‘Submit…to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.’ Romans 13:1. When we go to work we are under the authority of our Employers. The Bible says, ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart…because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.’ We’re under the authority of the Church. Hebrews 13:17a ‘Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.’ So there is a great lesson to be learned from the 5th commandment. When a child learns to submit to dad and mom’s authority the foundation is laid for a good life of living under authority as a citizen, as an employee, as a church member.
Learning to live life under authority is preparation for submitting to the ultimate authority who is God in Christ. ESV Colossians 2:9-10 says, For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. The Lord Jesus Christ is the final authority in the Universe and every person must bow before Him in submission.
Perhaps the single most important evangelistic influence in a child’s, preparing her to submit to Christ’s Lordship is a faithful father and mother who will make sure that the little girl obeys in their home; so that her little heart will be made ready a submissive home for Christ to dwell in. So, parents must teach your little rebels to obey mom and dad. Treasonous mutiny in your home will soon become mutiny with government and mutiny at work and mutiny at church. But above all mutiny with mom and dad is already a mutiny with God just beginning to be displayed!
Ephesians 6:4 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. On Father’s day, men, it is important to understand that the biblical to bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord; that is to head off the mutiny in your children’s souls is primarily yours. Men, you are called to provide for your children a model of loving sacrifice for their mothers, to teach them by your own work ethic how to relate to their future bosses, to display with prayer and patience how to relate to a pastor, to show by the quality of your life how to submit to the Lordship of Christ, and to shepherd their souls by insisting that they honor and obey both mom and dad. Fathers, you must instruct your children to submit to authority it is a foundation for all of life and eternity.
Let me just say men that I, with you, feel the force of this calling and my weakness in the face of it. Yes, we must give our children discipline and instruction, their souls are at stake, but we must also teach them that we haven’t always obeyed and we stand in need of the same grace of Christ as they do. Fathers, you more than any other person are responsible to point your children to the cross of Christ. More than the pastor, or youth pastor, or, yes, even more than the children’s pastor, you are responsible for the spiritual instruction of your children! Let that truth force you yourself to the very cross of Christ for forgiveness, grace, wisdom, love, and humility to live up the high calling of God upon your life. You are in a position to give your children a foundation that will support throughout life and into eternity; the foundation of honoring father and mother.
II. Honoring father and mother is freedom of life.
The second part of this verse is a wonderful promise that those who do honor their parents will live long in the land. Now this doesn’t mean that obedient children never die in childhood or that disobedient children never live to be 90. Rather this promise is a way of saying that God’s people live with God’s blessing as they keep His word. There are Old Testament covenant realities involved here but there are New Testament realities as well. Indeed, Paul affirmed this when he wrote in Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Obeying this command is the pathway to blessing.
Listen boys and girls, and teenagers. God commands you to honor your father and mother very clearly here in the 10 words. It is a terrible sin to talk back to your parents, to raise your voice at your parents, to disobey your parents, or to lie to your parents. It will not go well with you if you live life like that. I can think back to my teenage years the utter disrespect that I had for my own father and mother. It’s a wonder the Lord hadn’t just struck me down and been done with me. If you’ve been living like this, then let God’s word drive you to repentance. Turn back from dishonoring your parents. Go to them. Confess your sin. Ask for their forgiveness. And seek God’s grace to live in the freedom that the 5th commandment provides.
But, this extends not merely to children who are young but to children who are now old. We were all once children and we are all bound by this commandment forever!
You see without obedience to the 5th commandment, the screaming young toddler quickly becomes the rebellious teenager, who slowly becomes the empty young adult, who finally becomes the bitter and lonely senior citizen. In contrast to such an enslaved, hopeless life, believers can choose to love the 5th commandment and find grace in it.
One of the greatest examples of a life lived in rebellion to the 5th commandment was given by the Lord Jesus in the story of the Prodigal Son we find it in Luke 15. A young man so rebellious and selfish that he asked for his inheritance before his father died. It was another way of saying, ‘I wish you were dead, at least then I could have your money.’ So the father gave the young man his money and he gathered all that he went off into a far country and there he blew every penny he had partying it up. It was good for a while until he was broke and then he was forced to hard labor and he found himself wishing he could eat with the pigs. His life was a filthy mess. But the Bible says that he came to himself and when he did, he returned to his father only hoping to work with the servants, but his father saw him a long distance off and he ran to his son and embraced him. He put a coat around him, a ring on his finger, and made a great banquet feast to celebrate his return.
The prodigal learned that rebellion and dishonor does not lead to freedom but to slavery. Sin always leads to slavery and perhaps no sin illustrates that more than the sin of dishonoring your father and mother. But true freedom can be found in repenting of sin and submitting to Christ and then returning back to God’s law to learn to live with honor for our father and mother along with all the other commands. What true freedom the 5th commandment provides.
You see in a world in which the 5th commandment was revered. There would be no screaming little toddlers on the playground; can you hear the peace! There would be no teenager filled with angst and fleeing from his parents care into all kinds of immorality. There would be no senior citizen lying lonely in a home with no one to care for him or her; there would be no euthanasia!
Can you imagine the beauty of a church filled with men and women who live out the 5th commandment? A church like that would be such a powerful demonstration of humility and honor that the world would be absolutely compelled to give ear the claims of the gospel. The keeping of the 5th commandment is at the heart of our ability to evangelize Madison, IN with the very gospel of Christ!
Conclusion: Have you always kept the 5th commandment? Have you never talked back or slandered, disobeyed or dishonored your father or mother? The truth is that all of us have fallen short of this commandment and because of that we deserve death. I’m reminded of Deuteronomy 21 where a young man was put to death for disobeying his parents. That’s a reminder that we all deserve God’s wrath for breaking his commands.
But then, of course, there is Jesus. People have often wondered why the Bible is so silent about childhood and teenage years of the life of Jesus. Some ancient books even claimed that when he was young he would make birds out of clay and throw them into the air where they became real for the amusement of his friends, but the Bible is rather is silent except for Luke 2 where Jesus is left behind at the temple and when his parents find him and take him back home, verse 51 says of Jesus And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.
What was Jesus doing as a child, and as a teenager and as a young adult, making clay pigeons to fly? No, he was fulfilling the 5th commandment, honoring his father and mother, his imperfect and sinful father and mother. He was obeying them and honoring them perfectly. Christ fulfilled the 5th commandment all the way to the cross where even as he died he was caring for his mother by giving her, as it were, to John
Christ kept the 5th commandment so that He died on the cross he could bear the penalty for sins of every disobedient little child and every rebellious teenager and every selfish adult who would believe in Him.