Before Jesus, the Jewish people would never have even considered calling God Father. God was considered the father of the Israelites, the Jewish nation yet, they would have thought that was too intimate a term to call God. The first recording of Jesus referring to God as Father was in Luke when the boy Jesus was left behind as his family started home to Nazareth. The family would have been traveling in a caravan of family members and friends and they probably assumed Jesus was among other family members, yet when they couldn’t find Him they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. Three days later they finally found Him in the temple sitting among the religious leaders of the day. Jesus was only twelve years old yet there He was sitting among religious leaders and asking questions. When his parents questioned Him, Jesus responded
“And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I that I must be in my Father’s house?’” Luke 2:49
This was Jesus first recorded reference to God as Father. He would go on in His earthly ministry to model and to teach the disciples to call God Father and to think of God as Father too. In turn, when Jesus was baptized by John, as He was coming out of the water we hear God affirming Jesus right to call Him Father.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:17
Now Jesus would have had the rights even without affirmation. But maybe, just maybe this was what the people of that day, and maybe even us, needed to see in order to believe in Jesus’ rights to call God Father.
Jesus goes on to teach the disciples many times to call God Father. In John when Jesus was trying to explain to the disciples that He would be departing but that they knew the way, he put it this way.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him!’” John 14:6-7
He goes on
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” John 14:9-10
Jesus calling God Father to them, was one of those things that had to be taught over time. The idea that they couldn’t have called God Father would have been deeply Ingrained. But our study today is really about the word Abba.
Abba Father is an even more intimate term for God. It’s not just calling God Father, it is calling God “Daddy”. Young children usually always call their fathers Daddy. As we grow up I have heard some people eventually shorten the term to Dad but when children are younger they almost always say Daddy. It’s an intimate term, that conjures up images of a strong father comforting his children. We see Jesus use this term in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had gone there to pray to His Father the night before His crucifixion. He knew what was about to happen and in His despair, he fell on the ground and prayed.
“And he said, ‘Abba, Father all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Mark 14:36
Jesus knew what was coming. He was fully God and fully man. He knew that He was about to be led like sheep to a slaughter and in His manhood, he cried out to His Daddy! Tomorrow we will look at our rights to call Him Daddy too!