As Christians we tend to think of God in a way similar to how a peasant might think of a king. Of maybe we think of a child parent relationship. Both of these are accurate and have their place. Jesus displayed this when He gave us what we now call the Lord’s Prayer or the Model Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, and in some of the other Gospels as well. However, I when Jesus Himself prays to God, the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He shows us that there is more to our relationship with God the Father.
When Jesus prays in the Garden He knows that His time is almost finished. He knows that He is about to face torture, betrayal, abandonment and death. It is with this knowledge that He calls out to his father. It is with his knowledge that He addresses His Father as Abba. This is not the formal address that we see in the Lord’s prayer. Rather this is a much more personal and intimate greeting. In fact it goes beyond that. This would be the form of address only used by a child addressing his father. In fact I recently heard it say that this is actually how an infant or toddler just learning to talk might say it.
Consider for a moment that Jesus was around 33 years of age when He entered the Garden of Gethsemane. Imagine a grown man addressing his father as Da Da in the way that a very small child would. My father would probably think I’d lost my mind if I did this. Still, this is exactly what Jesus did.
It wrecked me
I have often heard and knew that the term Abba was a form of address used only by families. However, when I heard that this was more likely the form of address used by small children it wrecked me. To think that Jesus would address GOD THE FATHER in such a way nearly stopped me in my tracks, literally. When I heard this message I was on a walk in a local park. I nearly had to stop walking and sit while I contemplated it. This is not simply because Jesus shared this sort of relationship with God the Father, but because we can also have such a relationship. Not only CAN we, God wants us to have relationship like this.
In that moment I cried out Abba, Abba, Abba. I could picture myself laying my head on God’s chest as he wrapped his arms around me, comforted me and protected me. This is the relationship that Jesus demonstrates in that moment. This is the relationship that God calls us to.
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