A Father’s Presence Is Powerful

Date: September 23, 2020

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | And so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”  Luke 5:10

“Where is Zebedee?” asked George Stormont in Pointers.  He continued, “I’ve been looking for him for nearly fifty years.  The New Testament is haunted by his name.  You read of his sons, his wife, his hired servants, his fishing; but you never meet him.”

To understand Stormont’s question and the issue, you need to know that Zebedee, of whom the writers of the New Testament speak, had two sons, James and John, two young men who were prominent in the ministry of Jesus.  They came from a fishing village in Northern Galilee, Bethsaida—the ruins of which can still be seen today when a guide points them out from the tourist boat that takes visitors from Tiberias to Capernaum.

James and John were tending their father’s nets when Jesus walked by and challenged, “Follow me!”  Along with Peter and Andrew, these four made the Galilee contingent of men who became disciples, walking away from their nets to follow Jesus.

We read of Zebedee’s wife, the mother of James and John, who—as mothers are prone to do in looking after the welfare of their sons—asked Jesus if her two boys couldn’t be on Jesus’ left and right.  Yes, somewhat self-serving.

But what about the dad—Zebedee?  He’s never mentioned!  Was he dead?  Probably not. Stormont answers his own question, “But where is Zebedee?”  He says, “Busy…busy…busy minding his boats and mending his nets.  He “wasn’t a mean man,” says Stormont.  “He did not keep his wife or his boys from following Jesus.  He [just] did not follow Jesus himself.”

There are a lot of Zebedees today: the missing dads who aren’t there for their kids, who are gone when their offspring take their first steps and hit their first baseball or toss their first basketball through the hoop.  They aren’t there when a child comes home from school with the “my family” story written in scribbled penmanship, not mentioning a dad.   But that’s not their greatest failure.  Like Zebedee, consumed with climbing the ladder of success, they don’t follow Jesus.  They sometimes intend to, but never do it.

One of the greatest social tragedies of our day is the missing father.  Having made a baby, he’s off chasing his dream or another woman, failing to be there for his child.   A dad’s involvement with his child not only helps that child excel academically, but also helps him understand who he is, what it means to be male or female, how we relate to our heavenly Father.  Though it isn’t impossible, it is challenging to teach boys how to be men—godly caring men in particular—without a role model who is there, who leads the way spiritually.

The sad fact is that the number of kids growing up in a home where there has never been a dad is almost as great as those living in two-parent homes. Yes, I always think twice before I ask that question, “Where is Zebedee?  Where is your child’s father?”  I know that for most single moms, more than anything else, they wish a dad were there—for them as well as for the child.  But men need to be challenged, and in some cases reproved, not simply for their sakes but for their offspring’s.

Question:  Are you a Zebedee?  Take a look and see how many days this past six months were spent with your son or daughter.  How many weekends were you out of town, or golfing, or doing something apart from the family?

Where was Zebedee?  Busy.  Too busy.  Occupied.  Absent.   The cost of what he missed could never be balanced by a few more fish, a few more coins in his purse, or a larger business.  Some things are just not worth it.

Resource reading: Psalm 78:5-8