“I once was dead, until you brought me to life. Now I am born again by your Spirit. You gave us the right to be called your sons and daughters. We cry out “Abba, Father!” We are yours and yours alone…”
What an incredibly apt reflection on the character and nature of the God that we worship. This song, written by Jonathan and Christine Kimball, has been a powerful source of motivation for me to meet God as He is; Father to His redeemed children.
The first instance of the term “Abba” arises just moments before the chief priests and the pharisees send Jesus to the cross; as He is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and pleading with His Father – Yahweh – to, if at all possible, remove the cup of suffering He is going to endure. (Mark 14:36)
This cup of suffering was not the cross.
It was the weight of the sin of the world that He took on His shoulders at the moment He cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, llama sabacthani.”
“My God… My God… Why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus was completely separated from the Father, and Jesus completely took on the sin of the world.
Romans 3:23 says that “the wages of sin is death.”
But Jesus never sinned.
And therefore “death could not keep its hold on Him.”
Jesus rose from the grave on the third day as a testimony declaring that His offering for the sin of the world was accepted by the Father. For since He never sinned, He conquered sin and death and so, too, can all who come to Him conquer sin and death.
The wage of the sinner is death, but the wage of the sinless is eternal life.
All who confess “with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that He rose from the dead… receive Him… [and become] children of God.” (Romans 10:9-10; John 1:12)
It isn’t that Jesus wanted to refrain from taking on the sin of the world that He cried out for God to spare Him. It is that He did not want to be separated from His Father.
But He followed through, becoming separate from the Father because He cared more about our freedom from the oppressing nature of sin than His own life.
Twice more does the term “Abba” show up in the New Testament. Both in relation to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Galatians 4:6)
When we meet Jesus for the first time, not only do we come into a personal relationship with Him, but He indwells us in the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit is the “deposit that guarantees our inheritance” in the kingdom of God, where Jesus “went to prepare a place for us.” (Ephesians 1:13-14; John 14:2-3)
Because He conquered death, so we conquer death; because He paid the wage of our sin, so we reap the benefits of His sinless righteousness; because He is God’s firstborn of creation, so we become brothers and fellow heirs to the promises of the Kingdom of God; because He is the Son, so we, too, become sons.
He gave us the right to call Him Father.
And He delights to call us His sons and daughters.
It is because of Jesus’ life giving work on the cross that we “enter the throne room of the Almighty God with confidence” to address Him as our “Abba,” as our “Father.”