John 17:1-5 – “Jesus…lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ’Father’.”
As countless times before, Jesus begins this, His longest prayer, with the simple word “Father.” In the most difficult season of his life, with his crucifixion impending, Jesus the Son of God turned to God the Father to strengthen their relationship.
God the Father is largely forgotten. In most evangelical, reformed, and Bible churches, the focus is on Jesus Christ the Son of God. In most Pentecostal and charismatic churches, the focus is on God the Holy Spirit. Books are written on the Son and Spirit, and hardly anything is written on the Father. Sadly, it is Mormons and Muslims who are filling the gap and talk a lot about their false and unbiblical views of god as father. This might explain the growth of the Mormon cult and allure of Islam to young men around the world.
To be a Christian is to experience the fullness of, “adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5). When a child gets adopted, they need to get used to having a father and spend time getting to know their new dad. To become a Christian is to get a new family (the church), new big brother (Jesus), and new Father (God).
The Old Testament talks a lot about fathers and even includes genealogies listing generation after generation of dads. God is referred to roughly 15 times, and those few occasions are in reference to God’s relationship with the nation of Israel and not warm and personal communication to an individual. Everything changes with the coming of Jesus Christ. His favorite title for God is Father – and in the four gospels alone He calls God His Father roughly one-hundred and sixty-five times using the word Abba which is translated in most Bibles as “Father”.
This is a stunning statement. The Jewish people of the Old Testament did not refer to God as Father but on very rare occasion. Furthermore, the concept of God as Father is an intimate, warm, and relational one that other religions in history and the present day do not share. Most religions see God either as an impersonal force, or a frightening judge who punishes evil. The word Jesus uses for God the Father – “Abba” – was commonly used by children, young and old, in His day to refer to a dad who loved them.
For the Christian, we too can call on God as Father like Jesus. Romans 8:14-17 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…” How amazing is that! God is your Father, and prayer is how you build your relationship with your Dad by speaking and listening.
Take a moment right now and thank God that He wants to love you like a Perfect Father who wants a loving healthy relationship with the child they adore.