God is central and supreme

Whatever Jesus may have believed about the future course of history, he had never a doubt of the power and the centrality of God. His belief in God underlay and shaped all his other convictions and his teachings. For him God's will was sovereign. But to Jesus God was no arbitrary despot. He was Father. Father was Jesus' characteristic name for God. God was, to Jesus, the ruler of all nature. He might be and, indeed, was often defied by hostile powers and beings, but He would prevail.

Jesus was not a philosopher dealing in abstract terms and concepts. He never talked about "the problem of evil." He frankly recognized the presence of evil; indeed, he was acutely aware of it, but he never asked why, if God were sovereign, evil was present. He faced squarely the tragedy in the world about him. He plainly stated that sparrows fall to the ground and that lilies, so beautiful and alive today, are tomorrow cast into the oven. Judgement, terrible and certain, awaits those who do not conform to God's will.

Yet as he looked out on the world of nature Jesus saw the heavenly Father so ordering it that the birds are fed and the flowers bloom in all their radiance. To those who would so acknowledge Him and conform their wills to His ways. God would show Himself as Father. Indeed, He was always seeking men, but, presumably because He respected their wills, He did not force Himself upon them. Perhaps it was for that reason that His will in a specific issue was not immediately clear. In employing his will to seek it, the child would make progress towards maturity. Like the father in Jesus' most famous parable, God does not pursue the wayward into the far country, but waits. The prodigal is still His son, and when, disciplined by judgement, "he comes to himself," recognizes his course for what it is — sin against God's generosity — and knows his own complete un-worthiness, but, instead of being overwhelmed by despair, trusts enough in the character which he has seen in the provision made for servants to turn again to his Father and ask only that he be treated as a servant, the Father, waiting and eagerly watching, not only welcomes him, but runs to him, cuts short his rehearsed speech, and insists that he is His son.

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