BIBLE READING: GALATIANS 4:1-7; ROMANS 8:14-17; MARK 14:35-41
And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father! Gal. 4 : 6 (AMP).
God is rarely referred to as “Father” in the Old Testament. In fact, Galatians 4:1-7 talks about us being moved by the Spirit to cry out “Abba, Father” to God — Paul says that before Christ, though believers were actually sons, they related to God as if they were slaves, much as a very young child is treated like a slave, in being disciplined and told everything he is supposed to do.
But when Jesus came on the scene, He did something radical. Not only did He pray to God as His father, but He used this child-like intimate term “Abba” in order to do so, something that had never been done in the Old Testament or in any of the ancient Hebrew Rabbinic writings. Mark 14:36 (NASB) records Him as saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” ABBA was an expression of intimacy used by children toward their fathers. ABBA is the more intimate, affectionate way that a young child would address his father, quite similar to “Daddy” in our language.
This intimate language used by Jesus was remarkable, but reflected the close relationship that existed between the Son and His Father. But then an even more remarkable thing happened when Christ departed and sent His Holy Spirit upon His people at Pentecost. He invites His people to use the same language that He used to communicate with the Father. In other words, in sending the Holy Spirit, God was saying to His people, “You can call Me “Daddy”. And He not only invites His people to use this intimate term to call out to God, but also moves them by His Spirit more and more to come to God in this spirit of a child, stirring up and enhancing this intimacy with God the Father.
What is involved in this cry of “Abba Father”? It is a cry of need, a cry of confidence in His help, a cry of love, an expression of intimacy. It is the Spirit that produces in us a child-like love for God our Father. It is the Spirit that works in us the confidence that God looks with tender compassionate love upon His beloved children. It is the Spirit that moves us, in confidence of His love, to cast our cares upon Him (see1Peter 5:7).
The fact that God has invited us through the Spirit of His Son to address Him in this intimate way tells us a lot about His intentions for His children. This invitation is a sign and a demonstration of His great love and of His desire to have an intimate personal relationship with each one of His children. It is a promise of fatherly care. It is a foretaste of the glory that is to come, when we shall receive the full measure of all that God has prepared for His children, the inheritance we shall receive as His sons. It is also certainly a promise of Fatherly instruction and loving discipline, in order to conform us to the image of His only begotten Son.
Father, I pray that You put in me a strong desire to spend more time with You in the place of prayer just as a son delights to spend time with his father in Jesus’ Name. Amen.