Summary: This is a sermon that focuses on God’s parenthood.
“Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 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.’ The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
“Abba.” It’s a term of endearment. “Abba.” A term of intimacy. “Abba.” While it is usually translated “father”, it’s a term that can only really be understood today in the example of love and intimacy of a small child when it calls out “mama” or “dada.” It represents a close and very personal relationship. One so close, that words can barely begin to fully describe it. Only the thought of those words, “mama” and “dada” coming from the lips of a child whose love is without question can begin to represent the level of intimacy.
One would not usually think of an adult using “mama” or “dada,” and yet, that is exactly the word used by Jesus when he directly addresses God in the garden of Gethsemane. It is further not a coincidence that Paul uses this same word in our text today to describe our relationship with God. That one little word, gives us a world of insight, changes our view of God, and changes our paradigm for relating to God. For centuries, people had related to God in terms of something far off. God was something out there. So much so, that in reverence, they couldn’t even say the name for God “Yahweh” out loud.
Now compare this to Jesus calling God “Abba.” Instead of a name so removed it can’t even be said aloud, Jesus uses this term of such close endearment and intimacy that we can’t really see adults using it.
Jesus brought a new understanding of relating to God. God is not far removed, God is not something out there, something so… “perhaps feared” is the word, that we can’t even utter his name aloud. No, he is much more close, and he wants a much more intimate relationship more like what we see in the example of Jesus. One thing we must understand, it was not simply just Jesus’ love for God that is represented by the term “Abba,” but also God’s love.
Being a new parent, I am beginning to understand the love of a parent that simply beams for your child. And it is this kind of love that God has for his children. For all his children. And this comparison of a parents love is a very weak one at that, for God’s love is so much greater and so much deeper. It’s one that, much like the term “Abba,” goes beyond words. The best representation I have of this idea comes from Max Lucado’s A Gentle Thunder that I would like to read an excerpt from.
---God, I have a question: Why do you love your children? I don’t want to sound irreverent, but only heaven knows how much pain we’ve brought you. Why do you tolerate us?
We complain about the weather. We bicker about our toys. We argue over who gets which continent, and not a second passes where someone, somewhere, doesn’t use your name to curse a hammered thumb or a bad call by the umpire. We ignore the Word you sent us. And we killed the Son you became. We are spoiled babies who take and kick and pout and blaspheme.