Sermon: Our Father, Our Daddy
Scripture: Matthew 6:9
In this week’s lessons, we see how we are enabled to approach God in prayer because of the reconciling work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Theme: Abba, Father
Yesterday we concluded with the tense exchange between Jesus and his opponents in John 8, in which we saw that not everyone who was related to Abraham by birth was truly a child of God.
Let us submit to the Word of God, and let the truth of the Word sweep the mind clean of all such false ideas. There are not one but two families and fatherhoods in this world. There is the family of Adam into which all men are born. And there is the family of God into which some men are reborn by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These latter were once children of darkness; they are now children of light (Eph. 5:8). They were dead in trespasses and sins; they are now alive in Christ (Eph. 2:1). They were once children of wrath and disobedience; they are now children of love, faith, and obedience (Eph. 2:2-3). These are God’s children. And these and only these can come to God as their Father.
We still have not seen everything there is to see about this word “father,” however, for when Jesus addressed God as Father He did not use the normal word for “father.” He used the Aramaic word abba, and abba means “daddy.” Mark states this explicitly in his account of Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane: “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee” (Mark 14:36). And Paul tells us clearly that the early Christians adopted the Lord’s own mode of praying. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6).
What does abba mean? Well, the early church fathers, Chrysostom, Theodor of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrus, who came from Antioch (where Aramaic was spoken and who probably had Aramaic-speaking nurses) unanimously testify that abba was the address of a small child to his father.3 And the Talmud confirms this when it says that when a child is weaned, “it learns to say abba and imma (that is, ‘daddy’ and ‘mother’)” (Berakoth 40a; Sanhedrin 70b). To a Jewish mind a prayer addressing God as “daddy” would not only have been improper, it would have been irreverent to the highest degree. It was something quite new and unique when Jesus taught His disciples to call God “Daddy.”
Do you know the God of the universe as your “daddy”? It is your privilege if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know there are times when you must come to Him sadly, like a child who has just broken the living-room window. And there are times when you can come to Him snugly, as a child curls up on his father’s lap at the end of the day. But however you come, you can never change the relationship. He is yours. He is your daddy.
3Joachim Jeremias, The Lord’s Prayer, trans. John Reumann (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1964), 19.
What are the two families and fatherhoods in the world? What characterizes each of them?
What is the meaning of abba? How would a Jew have regarded that name when addressing God?
Prayer: Pray for any you know who may not be a Christian, but who falsely believes they are God’s children.
Key Point: There are not one but two families and fatherhoods in this world. There is the family of Adam into which all men are born. And there is the family of God into which some men are reborn by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Joel Beeke’s message, “The Glory of God as Father.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)