Friday, May 27, 2011

We get WHO He has

Galatians 3:26-4:7 was my favourite passage in the Bible. And I still love it. That and The Song of Songs. But this is stunning. Seeing it was one of those moments where I really feel the 'sweeter than honey'ness of the word as I taste and see the beauty of the LORD.
  • Luke shows us the intimate joy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in which only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father. It's beautiful but seems closed.... Except that the Son reveals the Father (who will introduce us back to the Son he knows and loves!).
  • Don't get busy, instead listen to Jesus and he'll teach you to speak to his Heavenly Daddy (Gk: Pater, Aramaic: Abba), to say Father! (Luke 11:2)
ESV Study Bible cautions:
"It was the word used by Jewish children for their earthly fathers. However, since the term in both Aramaic and Greek was also used by adults to address their fathers, the claim that “Abba” meant “Daddy” is misleading and runs the risk of irreverence. Nevertheless, the idea of praying to God as “Our Father” conveys the authority, warmth, and intimacy of a loving father's care, while in heaven reminds believers of God's sovereign rule over all things" (On Matt 6:9)
Seems troubling to me to say let's deny intimacy for the sake of avoiding what might "run the risk of irreverence". Jesus is teaching reverent intimacy... and introducing us into the relationship he has always enjoyed with his Abba in Heaven... can't see him saying, "better keep my distance in case I get irreverent..." It may well be a term 'also used by adults' - this is patently true: the adult Jesus used the word when speaking with his Father in heaven, without any irreverence. Besides, Jesus' point here is that we're not to think of ourselves as grown-ups, all wise and understanding but as little children.

In an age when we're convinced of God's distance from us, perhaps 'Daddy' overstates it, but feel the shock that we don't have to cry 'Headmaster' or 'Your Distant Highness' or 'God' but we get to call out to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is now our Father. Slightly alarmingly the commentary 'the idea of praying to God as Our Father' is helpful. Has the ring of the ESVSB thinking that Father is a useful gloss on god to serve our prayer lives, rather than - we pray Father in the name of the Son and the fullness of the Spirit because this is who the persons of the Triune God actually are.

We have to say: introducing us to (and into) "God as Jesus (and then our) Father in Heaven" is Jesus' message (Luke 10:22). The Triune God introduces himself to us personally and intimately, not firstly powerfully and impressively.... not to say that Jesus and his Father are not powerful and impressive - they are. But the gospel is not a wham-bam message, there is power but it is power wielded in tenderness and yielded in loving sacrifice... the kind of omnipotent kindness that describes the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that you see when you look at the cross.

Jesus is introducing us to Father in Heaven...
  • Jesus Father is so generous that he loves to give, he is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9), the great giver who will give us what we need for each day, more than that he given his Son, and much more loves to give the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:13). There is no Christianity without the Spirit, no entering into the love of God without the Spirit. More!
  • Result? We step inside Jesus' prayer life, and like him can joyfully say 'Daddy'. (Luke 10:21)
We get what he has! We get who he has! Risky? Uncomfortable? Hard to believe? Certainly. As Calvin puts it ‎"Without participation in the Spirit no-one can taste either the fatherly favour of God or the benefice of Christ" (Calvin 3.1.2) or in the words of Sibbes, we're "swallowed up in the love of Christ". That's a better story than your wildest dreams.

How is that possible?
1. Jesus reveals his Father to us. (10:21-24)
2. Jesus is The Good Samaritan who has mercy on us. (10:25-37)
Love him as he lays himself down to have mercy on us.
3. Jesus asks us to stop doing and listen. (10:38-42)
4. Jesus teaches us to ask. (11:1-13)

"How do we receive those benefits which the Father bestowed on his only-begotten Son – not for Christ’s own private use, but that he might enrich poor and needy men?
We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us."
(Calvin 3.1.1)

By the love of Christ let it be said, that in that hour, I rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said "Father..."


  1. Brilliant! Just brilliant. The quotation from Calvin hits the nail on the head. Welcomed into an infinitely loving relationship that far from being closed is wide open to enfold us into its bliss!

  2. It's a great bit of Calvin from 'The Way we Receive the Grace of Christ' which is the CU Staff's reading for the next few weeks, from Book 3 of the Institutes.

  3. A bit more Calvin on this: "First, it is the gift of the Father, that the Son is known, because by his Spirit he opens the eyes of our mind to discern the glory of Christ, which otherwise would have been hidden from us. Secondly, the Father, who dwells in inaccessible light, and is in himself incomprehensible, is revealed to us by the Son, because he is the lively image of Him, so that it is in vain to seek for Him elsewhere."