#abbafather

November 15, 2016

#abbafather
Have you ever heard someone pray
using the phrase “Mother/Father God”?  It
happens, every once in a while, I’ll be in a situation where a mainline pastor
is praying and they will use the phrase because they feel it will be less
offensive than “Father God” or sometimes I think they are either trying to be
theologically cute or just want to stir the pot.
And there may even be some here
today who think the concept of referring to God as “Mother” is fine.  But is that the reality?
I’m all in favour of using gender
neutral terms in the bible when it is appropriate, so “brothers” can be
“brothers and sisters”, “he” can become “they”.
For example, in the NKJV we read Matthew 4:19  Then He
(Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you
fishers of men.”  While in
the NLT it reads Matthew 4:19  Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will
show you how to fish for people!”  And
I have no problem with that.
 But we would not consider calling Jesus a her
because we know he was a him. He was Jesus, he wasn’t Jessica.  And Jesus referred to the first person of the
Trinity as Father.  There was no doubt about
that at all and no ambiguity. 
Many times he used the Greek word
“Pater” which simply meant father, but that was all it meant.  It was the most common, perhaps formal way of
identifying his father.
When I refer to Burton Guptill, I
will identify him by saying “he is my father.”
In the Old Testament God is not
often referred to as Father, but when he is it is in this formal form.  For example, 
Isaiah
63:16
 Surely
you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you
would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.
And while the Old Testament use
of Father for God is rare the concept of the Fatherhood of God takes a dramatic
turn in the New Testament.  “Father” was
Jesus’ favorite term for addressing God.  Jesus refers to God as Father over sixty times
in the first three gospels and over one hundred times in the gospel of John.  
This wasn’t just “a” way that
Jesus taught the apostles to address God, it was “The” way.
This is week six of our Hashtag
this series.  Since the beginning of
October we have been looking at various phrases and words from the Bible that
would warrant a hashtag if Social media had of been around when the Bible was
written.
And a hashtag is simply a way to
identify a common theme in social media, whether it be facebook, twitter or
Instagram.  And it is simply the # sign
followed by the theme, spelled out without spaces. 
For example this week the hashtag
I’ve used the most has been #meanwhileincanada. 
Last week we looked at
#rememberme and we focused on the story of the Last Supper.  This week we are just jumping up the time
line a little bit to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we discover Christ talking
to his Father.  
While in the vast majority of cases
Jesus uses that formal term Pater to refer to God there is an exception.   In one case he uses a different term.  And we heard that in the scripture that was
read earlier.
And I’m pretty sure that if
someone had of been there and heard Jesus’ prayer that night they would have
tweeted #abbafather.
When I first heard the term ABBA
at bible college I thought they were talking about the singing group.  And then when I realized that they weren’t
then I thought that maybe the group had a Christian background.  And they didn’t. 
In the scripture that was read earlier we
are eavesdropping on a conversation that Jesus is having with his Father. 
If you are like me, there are probably
certain talks, or conversations that you have had with your father that stick
in your mind. 
A friend of mine said he had “The talk”
with his eleven-year-old son a while back, pretty sure that was memorable, for
whom I’m not sure.  And here we are
eavesdropping on a very intimate conversation between Jesus and his father.

I am fortunate that through the years I have had a really good relationship
with Dad, probably didn’t realize it at the time but there are several
conversations that I can almost think of verbatim, even remembering where we
were when we had those conversations. 
Not all of them would be appropriate in this context. 

And as we listen to Jesus talk to his Abba we
realize that he had the type of relationship with his father that explains why
he was able to have this conversation with his Father,  Mark 14:35-36 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed
that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this
cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
And so it had come to this.  For three years he had taught for three years
he had healed.  For three years he had
tried to make a difference in his world and to direct people to his father and
now it had come down to this.  One of his
followers had already cut a deal with his enemies and he knew deep within his
heart that this was already the beginning of the end.
Others might guess what was going
to happen, he knew. From the very beginning he knew that the people would
reject him and his message and they would reject his call to draw near to
God.  He knew that he would have to die
and would have to surrender his life.  He
knew all this because he was God.  But he
also knew that he had to make the offer, he had to walk among the people and
offer them the chance to embrace him, even knowing they would reject him, but
he had to make the offer.
And so it had come to this.  And the worst part was the anticipation.  You know how you felt the last time you had
to go to the dentist to have a filling, or a tooth pulled?  You sat in the waiting room imagining how
much it was going to hurt, you could almost feel the prick of the needle as
they froze your gums, and as you heard the sound of the drill coming from the
office it was almost as if it was in your mouth.  Your blood pressure went up, your palms got
sweaty your pulse increased. Sorry, I was gone but I’m back now.
Jesus knew that before the day
was done that he would die, and not just die but die a very painful death.  Oh sure he was God he could make it so it
wouldn’t hurt, but that wasn’t a part of the plan. Dying would be the easy part;
it was Julius Caesar who said “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to
find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”  And Jesus Christ, the son of God knew
that before the sun had set one more time that he would offer up the supreme
sacrifice for the world, not just for the world, for you, and you and you.  Because before the day was done he would
offer himself up to suffer and die.
And with those thoughts racing
through his mind he fell to his knees and began to pray.
This is the prayer of Jesus.
Mark 14:36  “Abba,
Father,”
he cried out,
“everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from
me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The first thing we discover in
this prayer is 1) His Father Wasn’t a
Stranger
  For Jesus the Father was
not some abstract figure, he wasn’t a vague benevolent something, out there
somewhere.  Instead he was God the
Father, who loves and cares about his children, He was Abba.    When
we think Abba we think of a Swedish Disco group from the 70’s, and while that
may be what Abba means now, it is nowhere near what Abba meant then. 
Instead Abba was an Aramaic word
that meant father but more than simply father, it was the diminutive form. 
How many of you watch NCIS?  Do you remember this scene for last year’s
season finale?  (video clip of Tali
calling Tony Abba)
Burton Guptill is my father, has
been as long as I can remember, but you know something in 56 years I don’t
think I have ever called him father, ever. 
When I was younger I called him Daddy, and now I call him Dad, for a
while when I worked for him on the tugs I called him Skipper but I have never
to my recollection referred to him as father.
Abba means Daddy or Dad; it is a term of endearment, signifying a
relationship.  It’s used only three times
in the New Testament.  This was the
first.  The other two times Paul uses it
to describe the relationship we need to have with our heavenly Father Romans 8:15 So you have
not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received
God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba,
Father.”   And again Paul reminds
us in Galatians 4:6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of
his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
And I understand that the concept
of God as our Father is not a positive for everyone.  Some people were brought up by fathers who
were cruel and vicious, who abused them physically and verbally, and that
wasn’t right.  That isn’t what fathers
are supposed to do and are supposed to behave like.  Others weren’t abused by their fathers they
were simply ignored, it would appear that their fathers had taken to heart the
words of Ernest Hemingway who said “To be a successful father… there’s one absolute rule:
when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.”
But men who abuse their children
or ignore their children aren’t fathers they are simply sperm donors.  A father doesn’t just participate in the
conception of the child he is an integral part of seeing that child grow
up.  He is responsible for loving and
caring for his children. Of providing for them and protecting them, first
against the monsters who live beneath the bed and then against the world.  And as children we understand that, Sigmund Freud said “I cannot
think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s
protection.”
And now as Jesus came to the most
crucial time in his thirty-three years on this earth, knowing as only he could
know what was about to happen he cries out to his father, to his dad, pouring
out his heart.
When you pray who do you pray
to?  A concept, a belief, some vague
deity that we find hard to define, kind of like Alfred
Jarry who said “God is the tangential point
between zero and infinity.”
I don’t think so, but if we are going to pray to God the Father
then it better be to God our Father. 
There needs to be a relationship, and He only becomes our Father when we
become his children. And how do we do that? 
Listen to the word of God, John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the
right to become children of God.
And our obligation as His Children?    Philippians 2:15
so that no one can criticize you. Live
clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world
full of crooked and perverse people.
Our lives then become evidence of that relationship, 1 John 3:10 So now we can
tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does
not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.
You are a child of God if you have
believed in Jesus and accept him and you live clean innocent lives, obeying
God’s command.  Then you can call out to
Him, Abba.
Mark 14:35-36. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering
away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus not only knew he was praying to the
Father,  2) He Understood His Father’s Power Abba, Father,” He prayed everything is possible for you.  What’s
the use of praying if you don’t believe that God has the power to answer your prayers?  Somehow we need to get our head around the
concept that everything and anything is possible for God.  And I know that some of you are out there
shaking your head thinking “but God doesn’t always answer my prayers.”  You’re right God doesn’t always answer prayer,
but not because he can’t.  We also need
to understand that we aren’t always going to be able to understand it.  I can’t explain why God doesn’t always answer
our prayers.  Personally I know that
there have been some of my prayers that I’m glad He didn’t answer.
The Angel Gabriel summed it up in Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Time and
time again in the Bible we hear the words “everything is possible for God”, “anything
is possible for God”, and “all things are possible for God.”   But understand there are things that God
won’t do.  A woman approached her pastor
and told him that she wanted him to pray that her daughter wouldn’t move in
with her boyfriend like she was planning. 
The pastor refused.  Why?  Think about it.  God doesn’t force his will on us so why would
he force our will on others?  The better
prayer might be that the daughter would seek God and embrace His
salvation.  If we have a loved one in the
Armed Forces and pray that they are not sent into battle does that mean that
someone else might be placed in danger because our husband, son or brother
isn’t there?
But God has the power to answer all our
prayers, and we need to pray believing that He will answer those prayers, but
understanding that if He doesn’t it’s not because he can’t and it’s not because
he doesn’t want the best for us, but we may have a different idea then God of
what is best for us.  Sometimes we are
like little kids and we want it all, but all isn’t what we need.
So he prayed to His Father, believing that His Father had the
power to answer his prayer and then Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for
you. Please take this cup of suffering
away from me.
Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
 3) He
Knew His Father Cared About Him  
You
ever catch yourself praying for something for you and feel guilty?  It’s like somewhere along the line we have
been told that we should only pray for others. 
If we pray for ourselves then we are selfish.
That’s wrong.  When we pray
the Lord’s Prayer, that would be the one that Jesus gave the disciples, we pray
that God would give us our daily
bread, that God would forgive us,
that God would keep us from
temptation. 
A few years ago there was a bestselling book out called the Prayer
of Jabez and it looked at an obscure Old Testament Prayer that is recorded in 1
Chronicles 4:10, do you remember what he prayed?  1 Chronicles 4:10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you
would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and
keep me from all trouble and pain!”
A fairly
selfish sounding prayer but listen to the result, And
God granted him his request. 
Jesus said this about the Father Matthew 7:9-11 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread,
do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a
snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to
your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those
who ask him.
Oh sometimes when we pray for
ourselves we are praying for selfish things. 
You can’t deny that, but for the most part it’s not wrong to ask God to
be with us and to take care of us and to provide for us.  And He wants to do that, but you need to
trust his judgement.  And here is the
kicker.  It’s easy to pray to God our
Father, and it’s easy to acknowledge his power, and it’s easy to ask Him to
take care of us.  It’s tough to surrender
to His will.  
Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you.
Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
4) His Desire was to Be in His Father’s Will  American
Poet  Richard
Cecil made this comment “The history of all the
great characters of the Bible is summed up in this one sentence: They
acquainted themselves with God, and accepted His will in all things.”
Think about it, the only thing anyone in the
bible got by insisting on doing their will instead of God’s was trouble.  Time and time again it is proved that God is
smarter than we are. 
If you are like me, and like most people, at
some point in your Christian life you have made a decision that you knew was
not what God wanted you to do, so how did that work out for you?
Think about it on one hand we have God, the
creator of the universe, this is the God who cast the milk way into space, who
imagined platypuses and created you.  On
the other hand we have us, most of whom can’t even figure out how to change the
digital clock in our cars.  Which isn’t
really a problem because it’s right for half the year.     
It’s no contest, and yet time and time again
we want to pray to God, “Yet I want my will, not yours.”
When Noah chose God’s will he was able to
build an ark that saved him and his family, when Joseph chose God’s will he was
able to save his family from starvation. 
When Moses chose God’s will he was able to deliver his people out of the
slavery of Egypt.  When Gideon chose
God’s will he was able to save the Israelites from the Midianites.  When David Chose God’s will he was able to
defeat the giant.
And yet when Saul chose his will
over God’s he lost his throne, when Samson chose to ignore God’s will he lost
his life, when Jonah chose his will over God’s will he ended up in the belly of
a whale.
Now you might be asking, how will
I know the will of God?  Good
question.  Paul
Little says this “Has it ever struck you that
the vast majority of the will of God for your life has already been revealed in
the Bible? That is a crucial thing to grasp.”
But you will never know what’s in
the Bible if you don’t read the Bible.
What is your prayer today?  God has only your best in mind, are you
willing to trust him?