That little phrase, “Our Father…” has some strength to it. Remember that in Matthew 6:9 the Lord was teaching His men how to pray and the opening phrase of the prayer is: “Our Father who is in the heavens, hallowed be your name”. “Father” was not a foreign idea to the Jews for God did refer to himself as a Father to Israel through the Old Testament. The Jews however were more inclined to refer to Abraham as their Father, rather than to God as their Father (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8). Their earthly heritage had much greater importance than seeing God as their Father. However, it was not completely foreign to the Jews to refer to God as Father, as one would note in John 8:41: “They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.’”
The real problem with many of the Pharisees and Scribes is they were openly hostile to Christ, and at different times during His ministry sought ways to kill him. While they would make the claim that God is their Father, Jesus challenges that claim simply on the basis that they are hostile to Him and will not believe what He is saying. At one of those critical encounters Jesus gets in their face and really challenges them:
But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me (Jesus), a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. “You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear my word. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. (John 8:40-45 NAS)
Jesus was not always politically correct, which is a good thing. But notice the confusion and clarity that comes from this discussion:
- The religious leaders were trying to kill Jesus, which Jesus points out: violates the truth He was telling them and violates the same faith that Abraham (their father as in descendant) had towards God.
- Jesus accuses them that their real father is the devil because they will not believe, embrace, or love Christ (v. 40).
- The litmus test that answers the question, “Whose father is your father?” apparently is determined by how a person responds to the person and truth of Christ (v. 41-42).
What is extraordinary about this text is the statement in # 3 – if God is our Father we will embrace the truth that Christ speaks and we will love and embrace Christ. If a person refuses to believe Jesus and rejects His truth then Jesus would say that his or her father is the devil… That might be a little unsettling…
Our Father… One of the great realities is that no one has privilege before God. Jesus captured it this way in John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'” Everyone can only come to the Father through Jesus. We can only call God our Father through Christ. We can only become part of the family of God by a work of the Spirit of God (John 3:1-8). A rejection of Christ is a rejection of God the Father. But the wonderful reality is that any person who accepts Christ (love, embrace, and accept His truth), then God will become their Father; welcome to the family! What a generous gift from God to be our Father.