Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Calling God "Father"

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come." (Luke 11:1-2)

It's difficult for us to appreciate how radical the Lord’s prayer actually is because we are so far removed from the religious and social culture of Jesus' day. The term “father” for example was a term that made the religious leaders of his day furious and want to kill him.

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because...he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18)
It’s not that Jews in Jesus’ day did not think of God as their father. We do see evidences of this concept in the OT. The name “Abijah” for example (one of the kings of Judah) means “My Father is Yahweh”.

For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

Most of the Old Testament usage of the term however was likely understood as a royal title, not as one of deep intimacy.

And Jesus was clearly going beyond the royal usage. There was a claim of deep intimacy and familiarity in how he spoke of God that struck them as blasphemous and presumptuous. Who does this fellow think he is to claim to have such a close relationship to God...closer even that the High Priest, or the most pious teacher of the Law?

In one sense, the Jewish leaders were right in that it would be presumptuous, arrogant and perhaps blasphemous for any mere man to claim such a deep, personal relationship. But Jesus was no mere man! He is the only-begotten Son of God and his claim was not some delusional human fantasy, but absolute reality! He had every right to call God his Father, because it’s the truth! And by teaching the disciples to address God as Father he was granting the same right to them.

So when you pray and address God as father, remember that this right has been granted to you through faith in Jesus! Don't take it for granted - but marvel at this glorious privilege you have been given and let this glorious truth be fodder for your prayers. Never cease to be filled with amazement that to you brother, sister has been given the privilege of intimate connection with the God of the Universe!

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