Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jesus called God "Abba"

I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no one goes to the Father except by me
(Jesus says about Himself, John 14:6, TEV)

So close was Jesus’ relationship with God that the name by which He called Him most naturally was ‘Father.’ In fact, Jesus actually called God, in His native language Aramaic, ‘Abba.’ And that is remarkable, because ‘Abba’ is an expression of familiarity and intimacy such as a child would use of his father – indeed, in certain parts of the Middle East, children can still be heard today calling their fathers ‘Abba.’ It is almost as familiar as the English expressions ‘Daddy’ or ‘Dad’, or as the Ibans calling their fathers ‘Apai.

What is so important about that? Simply this: that religious people of Jesus’ day took God very seriously indeed. They considered Him great and powerful and holy, and therefore virtually unapproachable. They avoided calling Him by name if they could, and when they did (in worship or prayer, for example) they would be very careful to use titles which conveyed proper respect and reverence for Him. To call him ‘Father,’ let alone ‘Daddy,’ would have seemed thoroughly disrespectful and therefore unthinkable. The fact that Jesus did so repeatedly must have annoyed and upset many of His fellow Jews.

What is more, if you study the religious world, you will find there are many names and titles for God, but nowhere will you find anything comparable to the intimacy of ‘Abba.’ (In Islam, for example, there are 99 names of Allah, and there is none soo intimate as ‘Abba.’ Probably this is the missing ‘link’ between their God-and-men relationship) No other religious teacher has dared to use such a familiar way of addressing God. Yet Jesus even encouraged His followers to address God in the same intimate way, and they have done so ever since. “Our Father in heaven…” This is not only remarkable, it is unique.

Do you know God as your ‘Abba’, ‘Father’?
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?

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