Let's talk about good family relationships.
What are some of the strongest memories you have of your father from your youth?
What was your image of him? How close were you to him?
How would you describe the father you would like to have had (maybe, did have)?
[Loving, Available, Wise, Helpful, Forgiving, Fun, Protective, good Listener, Strong]
Let's see what we can learn from the relationship that Jesus had with his Father in heaven.
1. Mark 14:32-36
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray."
33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
34 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Note 'Abba, Father'.
In Matt. 26:39 version, only 'My Father' is used.
2. Matthew 26:39
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
What does 'Abba' mean?
[It's an informal Aramaic word, best translated as an intimate 'Daddy' or 'Pops']
Jesus spoke in Aramaic but both Mark's and Matthew's gospels were written in Greek.
Why do you think Mark used both words, 'Abba' and 'Father'?
[To stress both his close affection and his respect for his Father]
What else does this passage tell us about the relationship Jesus had with his Father?
[He was close, trusting, obedient, humble, reliant]
Do you think he saw God in the same way we described our 'ideal father'?
What image do you have of God, our Father in heaven?
How close is this to the image you had as a youngster of your earthly father?
Do you have the same feelings toward God of closeness, affection, respect, reliance, trust and obedience that Jesus had toward his Father? Why? Why not?
How can we develop this close relationship with God? Let's look at …
3. Romans 8:13-17
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Paul is saying that we can become part of God's own family but only if we do certain things. What must we do for a start?
[Put the sins of the world behind us]
When do we receive the 'Spirit of God' that helps us to put sin and fear behind us?
[Acts 2: 38 says we receive the 'Gift of the Holy Spirit' when we are baptised]
4. Acts 2:38
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
How does our baptism change the way we can approach God?
[We can approach him in prayer as a young child, without fear and with confidence, with familiarity, calling him 'Daddy', knowing that we are part of his family]
How can we then expect God to respond to our prayers? Let's look at …
5. Matthew 7:7-11
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
This is what God gives to his children when they ask him.
And, just like our parents, what does God expect us as his children to do in return?
[Be humble, respect him, trust him, listen and obey him, try to please him always]
How consistent were we in maintaining these attitudes toward our own parents as we grew up?
As God's children, will we be able to learn this consistency in our attitudes toward God on our own?
So where can we get the help we need?
[From reading the Bible, from studying with someone who knows God's Word better than ourselves, from group discussions like this one, from sharing with othres who have experienced spiritual growth opportunities and challenges similar to our own]