Incarcerated – The Dad Gap

by DanWolgemuth on August 9, 2019

39 times. All within the first 15 verses of the first chapter of the New Testament. 39 times.

The beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the beginning of the narrative about the life of Jesus… and in the first fifteen verses the word father appears 39 times.

Fathers connect generations, history, legacy, destiny and identify. They connect the dots from ancient history to the birth of Messiah. They are a genetic relay… the passing of a baton.

39 fathers, and then Jesus.

Only a few good. All flawed. Some outright scoundrels.


Into the mess… Jesus.

39. A mere statistic? A bit of genetic trivia?


Only a few pages beyond the 39 fathers, Matthew devotes three chapters to the teaching of Jesus. His words to a crowd on a hill. The Sermon on the Mount.

A pivotal moment. Ministry defining, foundation building, strategy shaping…

And with the words of this sermon, Jesus rocked the world. Literally. Spiritually. Culturally. Eternally.

Seventeen times in the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the word Father. And in fifteen of those references, Jesus, the son of God, uses the word “Your” to precede Father. Once, He uses the phrase “Our” in advance of Father (note the Lord’s Prayer), and once He references the fact that some who claim to be followers of God don’t know “My Father”.

Jesus, in a defining moment, shifts the tectonic plates of religion, relationship, and legacy by declaring that those who truly follow Him can claim God as their Father.

The unapproachable light. The Alpha and Omega. Shielded from sight in the Holy of Holies. Now… Your Father. Our Father.

This destiny shaping reality speaks into every inch of the prison cells in a juvenile detention center. It embraces every fatherless inmate. It interrupts the downward spiral of brokenness that permeates our culture. It liberates the captive, it sees the invisible, it speaks for the voiceless. The message of Jesus establishes a pathway to hope. A new trajectory. A transformed identity.

In one sermon, Jesus speaks into the core of our being. And He does so with dignity, compassion and love.

God is our Father. He is our foundation. Our patriarch. Our heritage.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. (Matthew 1:17, ESV)

Generations upon generations… the entrance ramp for Jesus. Then, in a stunning moment, Jesus introduces God, His Father, as Our Father.

The gravity and impact of this simply cannot be overstated. It rocked the religious leaders, just as it rocks the lives of every child of Adam.

It fills in the blanks to a loveless life. It obliterates the void that is filled with shame. From worthless, to a child of the King.

39 fathers… then Jesus… then Your Father… Our Father.

For every incarcerated soul… whether in a juvenile detention center, or working on Wall Street.

The Father that matters most.

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