Crosswalk.com is running a series of excerpts from the book Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler. You might want to dive in and cover the entire study, or better yet, pick up a copy of the book. Here’s the link to today’s reading.
Like the Father, Jesus is God. He always was, always is, and always will be. But unlike the Father, Jesus is also a human being. Though charged with blasphemy and crucified for claiming to be one with the Father, Jesus’ resurrection validates his claim to be God’s Son in a unique way. When we confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God, we share in the love the Father has for the Son, becoming adopted children of God.
Though Jesus was the Son of God, he was also the Son of Man, a title that emphasizes both his lowliness and his eventual dominion. Near the end of his life, when the high priest asked him whether he was the Son of God, Jesus no longer avoided the title but said that he would one day “see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64).
When you pray to Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man, you are praying to the One who is your Brother and your Lord.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 16:15 – 17
Praying the Name
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God. . . .’ ” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:41 – 43, 50 – 54
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27
Reflect On: Matthew 27:41 – 54 and Deuteronomy 33:27.
Praise God: For sending his beloved Son.
Offer Thanks: Because God considers you his child.
Confess: Your faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
Ask God: To deepen your sense of being his son or his daughter.
Have you ever played a game in which you let yourself fall backward into someone else’s arms? It’s difficult not to hedge your bets, not to sneak a look around to see whether the other person stands ready to catch you. Now imagine a more difficult challenge. This time you stand with your back toward an open grave and your task is to fall backwards into it. Your friend has assured you he will be there to catch you as you fall. The success of this venture depends on two things: your trust and your friend’s ability to keep his promise.
I imagine that Jesus’ death must have been something like that. Though he was God, he had to fall back helplessly into a human grave, trusting that the Father who loved him would raise him up. To do this, Jesus had to have been absolutely secure in his identity as God’s Son. In fact, Jesus never called God by any other name than Father, except once, when quoting directly from a psalm. Over and over, it was always “Father”:
* Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?
* Father, protect them by the power of your name.
* Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.
* Abba, Father, everything is possible for you.
* Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
* Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
Jesus was crucified for one thing — for claiming to be God’s Son. So it is interesting to note that when the earth shook at the moment of his death — the exact moment when the Son, falling into the grave, had need of his Abba’s all-powerful arms to raise him up — the centurion and those with him guarding Jesus exclaimed in terror: “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).
Abba, a word derived from baby language to describe Almighty God! A word that would have sounded shocking to pious Jews! This is how Jesus expressed his relationship with Yahweh — as my Daddy, my Dear Father. It is the way he wants all of his followers to think of God.
Listen to what Paul says to the Galatian Christians:
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’ ” (Galatians 4:6).
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! If you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Because of what Jesus our Brother has done for us, we too have become children of God. As his sons and daughters, we can be absolutely confident that underneath our deepest griefs will always be the everlasting, ever-loving arms of God our heavenly Father.
Related article on the Humanity of Christ.