What a week! Saturday night (really Sunday morning, Beijing time) ended a week of often staying up until 1:30 a.m. watching our incredible swim team – and particularly Michael Phelps. Nightly we would see his sisters and mother, faithfully and devotedly in the stands, cheering and savoring his amazing feat! But one thing—one person—was noticeably absent: Michael’s father.
After commenting on this throughout the week, I googled “Michael Phelps father” and discovered the story. Have I been under a rock while everyone else talked about it? Perhaps. Yet I discovered for the first time that Michael’s parents divorced when he was a child. According to the Baltimore Sun, “Fred Phelps wasn't an everyday figure in his children's lives for much of Phelps' adolescence.” The Sun went on to say that he and his children reconciled several years ago, but have drifted apart again.
Even in this moment of historic athletic achievement, the shadow of sin and broken relationships rears its ugly head. Once again we are reminded that no matter how great or perfect something or someone can seem in this world, the Fall in the Garden has lasting consequences that place us in desperate need of our Savior.
Relationships with other people may sour, fade, or come to disastrous blows. You may even have a falling out with the very two people God used to create you. While this is heartbreaking, our Lord Jesus steps in and makes all things new.
Philip said to [Jesus], "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9 ESV.)
Christ our Champion reminds you today that He is One with His Father. What’s more: because of His suffering, death, and resurrection, our Victorious Savior has redeemed you and made you children of the same Father.
Now, for every tear shed or hurtful word uttered, Jesus has forgiven and restored you. No matter how many times you have broken up with friends, been devastated by loved ones, or crushed by divorce or separation, our loving Lord heals and renews you, giving the calm assurance that He and His Father are with you. Not that He is with you in some magical, intangible way. He unites Himself to you in His Holy Gifts as He promises: Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, the proclamation of His Holy Gospel, and in His Holy Supper! So when you see Jesus in these Holy Gifts, you see the Father as well!
Now we have a joyous celebration—one which doesn’t have a four-year wait. Every Lord’s Day we are gathered around His Gospel proclaimed and consumed. Neither Michael nor you need to be fearful, scanning the stands to see if your mother or father is anywhere in sight. I will not leave you as orphans (John 14:18 ESV) He promises. You are given a perfect, holy assurance that you will never be forsaken by the Father – because you will never be forsaken by Jesus!