On Obeying and Honoring Your Parents
October 13, 2019
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for our time in the book of Ephesians. He is giving us commands and gospel truths about three common relationships on this old and fading earth: the relationship between husbands and wives, the relationship between parents and children, and the relationship between masters and servants.
Do you realize what this means? This means that Jesus cares about your relationships. He cares about how you are with others and he wants you to walk in a manner worthy of his gospel as you relate to them - as you live with them, as you talk with them, as you worship with them, as you wait for the Lord and the new heavens and the new earth with them. Jesus loves you so very much. But Jesus also loves the people around you so very much. So let us praise the Lord and let us listen to what he says about our relationships. And let us listen carefully to Jesus this morning as he addresses… children.
Now it is true that we do not have a lot of children in the room right now. Most of us are college students and young adults and married couples. And so it is understandable to think that this Scripture and this sermon does not really apply to you. It might be tempting to thinking that Jesus does not address you this morning.
But consider this. In Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus spoke strongly against the Pharisees and scribes because of how they did not truly honor their fathers and their mothers. The Pharisees and the scribes were grown men. But they were also grown children. And their parents would always be their parents.
Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to Jesus this morning as he addresses all the children in the room - as he addresses you. Because you will always be a child of God. And, in a very real sense, you will always be a child of your parents. Maybe you stopped being covered by the health insurance of your mom and dad. Maybe you stopped bowing down to them for New Year’s money. But you are always covered by the love of your mom and dad. And you will never outgrow your obligation to honor them. You will always be their daughter. You will always be their son. No matter how young or old you are. So please listen carefully. This sermon is indeed for you.
Our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to obey and honor our parents. You are to obey and honor your parents. The meaning of this obedience and honor is simple. When we obey our parents, we hear their words and then we act according to their words. We listen to their commands and then we do their commands. When we honor our parents, we make known their value and worth to us. We respect them and give praise to them and thank them. When we obey and honor our parents, we love them. It’s as simple as that.
Obedience and honor to our parents makes a whole lot of sense when we think about who they are and when we think about who is behind them. Your parents are people who have authority over you for the sake of your spiritual well-being (similar to how husbands have authority over wives for the sake of their spiritual well-being). And your parents are people who have been given to you by God.
Your parents have the high and heavy responsibility of raising you up in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus. Your parents are to teach you wisdom and the fear of the Lord. And your parents are a huge part of God’s plan for you. Your parents have been given to you by God. This is really amazing. I hope this changes how you see your parents. And I hope this changes how you view your obedience and honor to them. It is just right to obey and honor your parents. This is right.
Briefly, I want to address the question of what to do when one of your parents or both of your parents have not repented of their sins and believed in Jesus Christ. If this is the case for you, just remember that God is your heavenly Father. You can trust that he will take care of you and your spiritual well-being. And pray for your parent or parents who do not believe in Jesus. Perhaps God placed you under them so that you can share the gospel of Christ with them. Hope is not lost.
It is not easy to obey and honor our parents. But our Lord Jesus Christ gives us gospel motivation. And he does this by taking us back to the book of Exodus and the Ten Commandments.
After God delivered the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, he declared his commands to his people. In other words, after God’s gospel came God’s law. And so Israel heard and received the Ten Commandments. The fifth commandment was this: Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. This was a very special command because it was a command that came with a promise. And what was that promise? It was a promise of long life in a land flowing with milk and honey.
But is that the ultimate motive for obeying and honoring our parents? Not really. You see, God’s promise of long life in a land flowing with milk and honey was really a picture of the ultimate life in the ultimate land with the ultimate king. It was a picture of eternal resurrection life in the kingdom of the new heavens and new earth with perfect communion and fellowship and relationship with God.
And you have all of this. You have all of this because Jesus fulfilled the Ten Commandments for you. And that most certainly includes the fifth. Jesus honored his earthly father and mother, Joseph and Mary. This is mind-blowing. The second person of the Triune God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, humbled himself in redemption and took on human nature. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He was a child underneath Joseph. And according to Scripture (Luke 2:51), Jesus was submissive to his earthly parents. He obeyed and honored his earthly father and mother. And he did it perfectly. As a result of this, Jesus earned the promise that came with the commandment. He earned the ultimate life. He secured the ultimate land. And as the ultimate king, he graciously promises you everything that he won with his obedience.
Brothers and sisters, THIS is why we obey our parents. THIS is our motivation for honoring them. We obey our parents because we are literally saved by Jesus’ obedience. We honor our earthly parents because Jesus literally honored his earthly parents. It’s as simple as that. We are not obeying and honoring our parents in order to have a life and a land with the Lord. We are obeying and honoring our parents because we have a life and a land with the Lord. And your Lord wants you to have this mind as you relate to your parents.
But the gospel motivation doesn’t just end there. The fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments has a positive promise attached to it. But there is also a negative promise attached to it. According to Exodus 21 and Leviticus 20, children who dishonored their parents by striking them or cursing them were to be put to death. The penalty for this sin was of the highest amount. You would receive an ultimate death in an ultimate hell by the ultimate Judge.
But you do not have this. You do not have this because Jesus fulfilled all of the law for you. And that most certainly includes Exodus 21 and Leviticus 20. Jesus died for your disobedience and dishonor to your parents and your lack of obedience and honor to them. This is mind-blowing. The Lion became the Lamb. And Jesus paid the penalty for your sin by dying on the cross for you. And he did it perfectly. As a result of this, Jesus fulfilled the justice that came with the commandment. He died the ultimate death. He suffered the ultimate hell. And as the ultimate servant, he humbly and lovingly took from you everything that you won with your disobedience.
Brothers and sisters, THIS is why we obey our parents. THIS is our motivation for honoring them. We obey our parents because we are literally saved by Jesus’ obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). We honor our earthly parents because Jesus literally paid for all the dishonor and lack of honor we give to our earthly parents. It’s as simple as that. And your Lord wants you to have this mind as you relate to your parents.
Dear Highland, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to obey and honor your father and your mother. This is the heart and mind and will of your King. Remember what your parents taught you with regard to Christian life. Consider their wisdom. Be in awe for your parents, especially as many of you in this room begin to see how hard it is to be parents yourselves. Give them praise and thanks. Do not neglect them as you move forward in your life. Cherish them and love them more deeply as they grow old in age. Do not mix your obedience with slowness or complaining. Do not talk back at them disrespectfully. Do not make fun of them. Do not strike them or curse them in your hearts. Do not pretend that you didn’t hear them or that you forgot what they told you to do.
And if you struggle to honor your parents because you think that they are not worthy of such honor, then remember this. You can indeed honor your parents despite their sins. You can do so because God honors you despite your sins. Yes, God honors you. Children are supposed to honor their parents. But the crazy twist of the gospel of Christ is this. Your heavenly Father honors you and loves you despite your sins. You can honor and love your parents despite their sins.
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord for our parents and the relationships we have with them. I wish the best for your relationships with your parents and we will always pray for you. May Jesus give you all grace and strength to obey and honor your parents in the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria
Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us commands and gospel truths about the relationship between parents and children. He cares about our relationships and wants us to walk in a manner worthy of his gospel.
Jesus commands us to obey and honor our parents. We are to listen to their commands and do their commands. We are to value and respect them and give them praise and thanks. This is love.
It is important to remember who your parents are and who is behind them. Your parents are people who have authority over you for the sake of your spiritual well-being. And your parents are people who have been given to you by God.
I hope this changes how you see your parents. And I hope this changes how you view your obedience and honor to them.
It is not easy to obey and honor our parents. But our Lord Jesus Christ gives us gospel motivation. Jesus fulfilled the law positively and negatively for our behalf.
He humbled himself and perfectly obeyed and honored his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary. In doing this, he secured the ultimate life and the ultimate land as the ultimate king for us.
He also humbled himself and perfectly died for our sins of disobedience and dishonor to our earthly parents. In doing this, he died the ultimate death and suffered the ultimate hell and as the ultimate servant and sacrifice for us.
This is why we obey our parents. This is our motivation for honoring them. The Lord wants us to have this mind, heart and will as we relate to our parents.
Small Group Questions
Jesus commands us to obey and honor our parents. In what ways can you specifically grow and mature in obedience and honor to your parents?
Your parents are people who have authority over you for the sake of your spiritual well-being. And your parents are people who have been given to you by God. How might these amazing truths change the way that you view your parents and your obedience and honor to them?
How does the gospel of Christ motivate you personally to obey and honor your parents more?