Summary: Jesus taught us to call God "Daddy"! - A Sermon for Lent on "The Lord’s Prayer"
"ABBA - FATHER"
Before the coming of Jesus the Jews saw God only as a figure of majesty and awe. Their normal reaction towards Him was an attitude of fear and trembling. But, when Jesus came, He brought a totally NEW concept - a QUITE STARTLING concept, and He introduced it when His Disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray". His response was to outline a new way for them to pray, His way - and His way began like this............... "ABBA", which means "FATHER". We call His teaching "The Lord’s Prayer".
It was as if He was saying to them, "Up to now you have been afraid of God, but now I want you to see Him in a new light. So I want you to begin with a new way of addressing Him - from now on, when you pray, say to God - "ABBA".
Now because "ABBA" is an Aramaic Word, and "FATHER" is an English word, we may miss the fundamental difference that Jesus is pointing them to. We may miss it because we don’t understand Jesus native language, and the nuances behind it, and we may miss it particularly if our own father was stern and strict, or distant or unloving, as some fathers can be. The only way I can describe this difference is by telling you a story.
David Pawson, a Baptist and an eminent Bible teacher, spent some time in Israel during the 2nd World War............ One day he was walking through a village just as the local school was coming out, and David was walking just behind a group of little boys who were on their way home. Suddenly one of them saw a man in the distance - the little lad started to run towards him with his arms stretched out, and as he ran he started shouting "ABBA! ABBA! ABBA!". The man saw the little boy, opened his arms wide towards him , scooped him up, and swung him round and round in a circle of joy.
David said, "Suddenly it came to me what Jesus was getting at when He told His Disciples to call God "ABBA". That little boy was home in his father’s arms.
And that’s what "ABBA" means - it’s the Jewish equivalent of "DADDY".
And that’s the new concept that Jesus was introducing to His Disciples and to the world.
God IS a figure of majesty and awe, and it would be good to recapture that fact - but He is also our "ABBA" - our "DADDY".
And that’s the concept I’d like you to grasp at the beginning of Lent, for it explains a lot of things we might easily miss if we see this six week period just as a time of austere self denial.
How did Jesus come up with this idea of God as "ABBA"? It arose from the relationship He had had with God, and which had grown over many years. At the age of 12 He was found by Mary and Joseph in the Temple at Jerusalem after being missing for a number of days. When they told Him off for being thoughtless He replied, "Didn’t you know that I had to be here in my Father’s House, doing what He wants me to do". He HAD to be there - not because it was a duty, but because it was a JOY to Him to be in that special pl;ace, with that special Person He was growing to know so well.
And then, in his 30’s, when this Father/Son relationship had grown to maturity, Jesus offered Himself for Baptism. When John the Baptist protested that Baptism was UNNECESSARY for Him, Jesus replied, "Let it happen, for in this way we shall do all that God requires" - He was surrendering totally to His Father’s will. Then it says, as soon as he came out of the water, the Spirit came on Him, and ABBA SPOKE TO HIM and said - "You are my own dear Son. I delight in you"
THAT was the spur for everything that would happen afterwards. He was God’s Son - God was His "ABBA". They were joined together in a deep, warm, passionate love relationship of loving trust on His side, and total protection on His Father’s side. He was held fast in "ABBA’S" arms - now He could begin His Ministry.
That didn’t mean that life would always be easy for Him - far from it. In fact the first thing that happened to Him was a time of testing.. He was led by the Spirit (by the Spirit mark you) into the desert - His enemy comes to Him and tries to fill Him with doubt about His standing with God..... "Did God really say that you are His Son. If so, why would He let you starve like this?"