Yahweh speaks the Ten Words to his son, Israel.
The Words are ultimately pointing to the Son, who takes flesh to become true Israel. The Ten Words speak of Jesus, and Jesus is the final interpretation of their demands.
“Honor your father and your mother,” the Lord says, and Jesus embodies perfect honor to His father and mother.
Jesus slips away from his parents while they’re in Jerusalem, demonstrating, as Barth says, that children may honor their parents against their own parents’ will and knowledge. They may be called to honor their parents by honoring the heavenly Father more.
It’s in Jesus’ relation to His heavenly Father, though, that we see the full meaning of the fifth commandment.
Jesus glorifies His Father. His meat is to do the Father’s will. With every breath, He keeps the fifth commandment.
But Jesus’ relation to His Father shows that the Fifth Word is fulfilled only in reciprocity and mutuality. Jesus glorifies the Father as the Father glorifies the Son (John 17). Jesus hears the Father and does what He commands; but the Father’s ear is toward Jesus.
This has profound import for parenting. If parents are hyper-critical of their children, they’ll be criticized by their children. If parents don’t listen to their children, they won’t be listened to. If they judge harshly, their children will judge them harshly. If they denigrate, they shouldn’t expect to be honored. Parents who belittle and criticize shouldn’t expect to be praised.
Parents reap what they sow.
If you want respect, show respect. If you want your kids to listen, listen to them. If you want honor, show honor. If you want your children to act like the Son, start acting like the Father.
Mutual honor between parents and children – that’s a reflection of the life of God.