Our Father

Today's thought:

Romans 8:15, "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father.""

Imagine the scene of the palace of Xerxes at Susa. You come to it from the East to the Great Gate. It is massive and makes you feel like an ant going through a tunnel in a mountain. It is meant to make you feel small, insignificant. Because that is exactly what you are in the court of king Xerxes. Now you make your way to the palace itself. Entering from the East there are three courts moving from large to small and to your left is the great palace hall. The courts are filled with soldiers and all the king's advisors waiting on the whim of their king. Straight ahead comes the heavily guarded long hall that turns two corners to face the most massive part of the palace, the Apadana, where the throne of the king is. Now, entering through that huge door into the throne room of Xerxes without permission carried a penalty of death for the offender. This law was not lightly taken by the people of Persia. So, what was Esther hoping would save her as she went unbidden before king Xerxes. I've often wondered that. I think it was one word. "Wife." In order to save her people, Queen Esther collected her courage and approached the throne. The king accepted her without rebuke, granted her request, and a nation survived because Esther's gamble that the title "wife" could save her from possible execution had paid off.

Now imagine walking through the halls of a magnificent royal court. As you reach the entrance of the throne room, you peer through the doorway and see the king on his spectacular throne. Royal guards are posted along the wall and sentries stand at the door. But they do not stop you as you walk. They ask for no credentials or letters of introduction. You need not register with the king’s aide. There is no protocol that must be observed. For, as you enter the throne room, you say the word which brings the king rushing to you. “Abba.” He is your father. 

Just as Jesus taught us to pray “Our father who is in heaven. . .“ (Mt. 6:9) so do we address the heavenly king as father. When Jesus used the term abba, he changed forever the relationship between man and God. The concept of addressing God as “Abba, father” was revolutionary, because of the intimacy implied by the word itself. In the days of Christ, abba was a term of endearment used by children, much like “daddy” in our culture. Though God is described as a father in the Old Testament, the use of the more familiar term doesn’t appear until Jesus uses it himself. Scholar Joachim Jeremias explains the impact of its unusual change in usage:

"“Abba” was an everyday word. No Jew would have dared to address God in this manner; yet Jesus did it always in all his prayers which are handed down to us, with one single exception: the cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus authorizes his disciples to repeat the word ‘abba’ after him. He gives them a share in his sonship. He empowers them as his disciples to speak with their heavenly father in just such a familiar and trusting way."

Why do we have instant access to the throne of God himself? Because the throne is occupied by our father. The Father loves us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children (I John 3:1).

Prayer: Abba, Father: we come to You as Your children. How amazing that we can call the Creator of the universe our Father. Thank you for welcoming us into Your throne room our King. Thank you for welcoming us into Your Kingdom. I pray we will reflect the family resemblance and be a reflection of who You are. Give us wisdom today to do that. In Jesus name, amen.

[Adapted from the message: "Teach Us To Pray: Part One: Our Father who is in heaven." Listen to full message here: www.arvadachristian.org/sermons]