Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Portrait of Intimacy

John 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus angered the Jews because He did something that no upright man had ever done- call the Father of Heaven His own. Nowhere in the OT is found a righteous man speaking of God in such intimate terms. Even Abraham, though he was blessed to have the closeness of God as he walked & talked with the Lord face to face did not presume to speak to or of God in such a way; rather his attitude was thus- "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes” (Gen 18:27b).

My Father” bespeaks a warm & close bond with the awesome God of the universe. No fractious man, stained with trespass, could have such closeness to the Father of perfect holiness. Though Jesus is the first man in Scripture to use this phrase in such a way, He does not do so sparingly. Scripture has Him speaking of His Father in this manner 47 times, with it most prevalent in John’s Gospel- twenty-five times, from 2:16 to 20:17, Jesus calls on & speaks of the God of fearsome wrath with the confidence of the dearest of sons.

Too, Jesus leads His disciples into an intimacy with the Father as well. His example of fundamental prayer begins with “Our Father who art in Heaven”. Paul follows Christ’s lead by likewise commencing most of his letters with “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus can lead impure men into such intimacy with the God of pure holiness only because of two precepts. Firstly, His own pure holiness of nature declares His proper place at the preeminent “right hand” of the Father. His position has been settled from everlasting. Consequently, depraved man’s rank of intimacy with a holy & wrathful God can only come through abiding in Jesus Christ- for no one else has the “right hand” of the Father’s fellowship, & no one else has deflected & absorbed the right judgment of the Father for us. Outside of His beloved Son, the Father sees only our filthy rags.

Our Lord is the lone “way” to gain the intimate bond with the Father we seek. Thomas rightly sought to see the Father, but Jesus had to instruct him & us as well, that abiding in Him was the only possible approach. His intimacy & sacrifice alone clear a path to the Father for us; we need only to abide & ride, letting Christ’s intimacy with the Father become the only basis for our intimacy.

John 14:1-11 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (4) And you know the way to where I am going." (5) Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" (6) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." (8) Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." (9) Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (11) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Throughout His life, Jesus humbly walked as a man to know our every toil & pain, yet even at age twelve, He was most intimate with His Heavenly Father...

Luke 2:46-49 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (47) And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (48) And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." (49) And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

Even then, He desired intimacy with His truest Father. Even then, Jesus alone spoke of the remarkable God of all creation as "my Father".

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