8 But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. 9 Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. (WEB)
In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to His disciples about the religious leaders of the day and their abuse of their spiritual authority. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus very clearly tells His disciples that they are not to misuse their spiritual authority in a like manner.
Instead of striving to be the most powerful or most influential, Jesus called them to take on the posture of a servant. He then reminds them of the upside down Kingdom that they are called to, where the last will be first, the poor will be rich and the weak will be made strong.
In His address about spiritual authority, Jesus tells His disciples that they better not try to be the intermediary between God and man. Instead of taking on the title 'Rabbi', they should defer to Christ as the Great Rabbi and simply point to Him. The same goes for the title 'Master' too.
But Jesus also says in this passage to 'Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.' Was Jesus saying that we should not address our earthly dads as 'father' because of our relationship with our Heavenly Father? Absolutely not!
We are called to honor our mothers and our fathers as this is the first one of the ten commandments that comes with a promise. (Ephesians 6:1-3). The Apostle Paul also encourages Timothy to treat older men in the faith as 'fathers' (1 Timothy 5:1). So I don't think it would be consistent in Scripture to say that Jesus was telling His disciples not to acknowledge their natural or spiritual fathers.
I believe what Jesus was saying is that in the same way that we have direct access to Jesus as our Master, we have direct access to our Heavenly Father. We do not need an intermediary to get between us and God. Sure we have brothers and sisters who cheer us on and leaders who model what it means to follow Christ, but never, and I say never should any person take the place in our hearts that is reserved for God alone.
My prayer today is that we would all know that we have a Father in heaven who loves it when we come into His presence with boldness. There is no need for us to go through anyone other than Christ to have direct access to our heavenly Dad.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. (WEB)