The final week of life as He has known it on this earth has arrived. By all accounts He is only in His early thirties and yet, this is His “hour.” He has devoted these last hours to sharing with His closest friends that which was pressing and immediate for them to know and what His leaving meant for Him and for them. He had this “hour” on His mind before and had mentioned it a few times (John 2:4; 12:23, 27). This would be His darkest hour and finest hour at the same time, and ironically, it would also be our darkest and yet finest hour. This seemingly contradictory truth is a paradox that only those who are willing to surrender to a life beyond self can begin to understand.
Now He stands in solitude, perhaps just a small distance from His friends, raises His eyes to the heavens and begins to pray. The first word to come from the lips that for around three years had been bringing hope and healing to so many was… “Father.” It is doubtful that any mind other than His can grasp all that has happened and the great exchange that has taken place for that precious and moving word “Father” to be spoken by Him. This word was not a title prescribed in some memorized prayer for meeting a religious duty. No, His cry of “Father” was a description and manifestation of a relationship based in deep oneness, romance, and love between the Father and the Son. This word had come about because of a God who loved so much that He sent and gave, and His Son, known before time in the heavens as the Word, who came and gave for the sake of whoever would believe and receive that love. The opening word “Father” in this prayer was born out of sacrifice and surrender that was about to become life changing for many.
Jesus’ prayer will be very different than many. There is a time I’m sure for beautiful and lofty terms such as “Oh Thou omnipotent God,” but unfortunately any purely religious person can shout that out. I admit to having at times begun my prayers, (particularly when I had an agenda of requests I had not yet disclosed), with specific titles for God to remind Him of what He was capable of and how that should benefit me. When I needed financial help He was the Great Provider, and the All Knowing, All Powerful God when I wanted Him to inform me on some matter or defeat an enemy for me. That would be rather like standing before my earthly father, (before he went to be with the Lord), and saying “Oh thou great owner of all things in the family with wheels, could I have the keys to the car?” That is not what is happening here though, not in the solitude of this Son and His “Father.” This is a Son in submission standing as flesh and blood, blood about to be spilled, because He is in a state of total love for His Father, and the result of that relationship is His being consumed with pouring out that love and concern for the sake of others…like you my children, and like me.
The above truth is why, though He can and does depend on His Father for any and everything, He is not going to demand the “car keys” of escape from suffering or death, for that would ultimately still leave the nagging question…”So what?” You see, Jesus is in this relationship of being a man of flesh and blood crying “Father,” because of a great exchange He had made. This exchange had begun an eternity ago and would soon be displayed on a piece of wood splattered with blood, that would throw wide open the door for you to have a relationship with God as Father,that no religion before, and no religious practice by itself ever has or ever will offer. That is the answer to “So what?” The door of intimate relationship between mankind and God had already been cracked by Jesus’ living out on earth the relationship of Son to Father, or more strangely and simply put, Child to Parent. His dream though had always been for you to be able to have the same thing that was going on with and in Him, going on with and in you. His exchange would soon bring about the reality of you no longer trying to reach or please an outside God by religious requirement, performance, duty, or obligation. Now you would be offered the opportunity to live a life of relationship in response to the Spirit of your Lord and your God dwelling in you, whereby you can cry “Abba (Daddy), Father” (Galatians 4:6). When that happens, relationship has overtaken religion, and “Father” is now not a title, but a description and manifestation of what is going on in you. That is available to all of you now because of His great exchange, which I will address later.