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Aug 14, 2022

On the Origin of Life

On the Origin of Life

Passage: Deuteronomy 5:16

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Life in Ten Words

Whether we are endeared to our parents or estranged from them, their influence or impact on us–even in their absence–is beyond measure. The first of the commandments related to loving others, the fifth commandment is about the honor of parents. And as we’ll see the honor of parents and the worship of God go hand in hand.

Readings  & Scripture

PREPARATION: Proverbs 23:22-25
LEADER: Listen to your father who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.

ALL: Buy truth, and do not sell it;
buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

LEADER: The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

ALL: Let your father and mother be glad;
let her who bore you rejoice.

What does God require in the fifth commandment?
That I show all honour, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand. Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 104

John 19:23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

ALL: Thanks be to God.

CENTRAL TEXT: Deuteronomy 5:16 / Matthew 10:34-39, 15:1-9
Deut. 5:16   “ ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Matt. 10:34   “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matt. 15:1   Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

8     “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;

9     in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

BENEDICTION: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

LEADER: Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

ALL: Amen!


Deuteronomy 4:30
Malachi 4:4-6
Matthew 7:9-11
Mark 3:31-35
Ephesians 6:1-3


  1. How are you like your mom? Your Dad? How would you describe that “inheritance” from them–whether positive or negative?
  2. Why might the commandments related to love of others (5-10) begin with a commandment about respect for parents? Do your best to imagine why this precept would be necessary for Israel to hear then? Now–what particular realities make the precept relevant to our present moment?
  3. What’s the wisdom–the good–of this commandment? How do the New Testament passages we also reviewed help to clarify its meaning? How might you summarize Jesus’s sense of this commandment through those two passages in Matthew?
  4. How is “honor” not necessarily the same as admiring or even liking? So how can you imagine honoring if, in some circumstances, you lack admiration or affection? 
  5. This commandment speaks to children–young and older. How does it also speak to those who are parents?


  • If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will not spare? Augustine
  • Jesus’ self-consciousness is distracting. Who does he think he is?  He comes crashing into history, and then into our lives, and takes over, pre-empting our most instinctive loyalties, presuming on our deepest affections, usurping our natural ties, and asking (and so claiming) to be the most important person in our lives. We would not tolerate this presumption in most. Somehow it is appropriate in Jesus.  We sense that his claim restores us to the primal family. F.D. Bruner
  • I think it is significant that the Fifth Commandment falls between those that have to do with proper worship of God and those that have to do with right conduct toward other people. I have always wondered if the Commandments should be read as occurring in order of importance. If that is correct, honoring your mother is more important than not committing murder. That seems remarkable, though I am open to the idea.  Or they may be thought of as different kinds of law, not comparable in terms of their importance, and honoring your mother might be the last in the sequence relating to right worship rather than the first in the series relating to right conduct. I believe this is a very defensible view.  I believe the Fifth Commandment belongs in the first tablet, among the laws that describe right worship, because right worship is right perception (see especially Romans 1), and here the Scripture commands right perception of people you have a real and deep knowledge of. How you would honor someone differs with circumstances, so you can only truly fulfill a general obligation to show honor in specific cases of mutual intimacy and understanding. If all this seems lopsided in favor of parents, I would point out again that it is the consistent example of parents in the Bible that they honor their children. Rev. Ames in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead