Several years ago, our family took a trip to Florida. On that trip, we decided to go to Legoland. Ty was into all things Lego at the time. It was a really great experience.
I’ll never forget what happened as we waited in line for a roller coaster at Legoland. As we neared the front, something unusual drew my attention. A family farther ahead of us in line caught my eye. The family, was by their outward appearance and dress, an orthodox Jewish family; they had my attention.
As they neared the front of the line, one of the youngest children in the family was voicing his anxiety about the coaster. The closer they got to it, the louder the coaster got and the louder he got. And when they were nearly ready to ride, the child was close to panic. With each “WHOOOOSH” of a passing coaster, he was crying “Abba! Abba!” and reaching his arms up toward his father. Now, everyone was watching.
The father did something beautiful. He patiently came down to his son’s level, looked him in the eye, said some calming words, scooped him up and carried him to a side exit door. The son’s terror subsided as he hugged the father’s neck. It was a touching moment for me–both as a dad and a gentile.
Any father, when called by his child, immediately attends to the cry like the father did that day by the roller coaster. Full of fear, panic, anxiety and dread, this abba instinctively came to, calmed, and protected his son.
Abba. I rarely hear that term used outside of church. Abba is an intimate term used mostly by Jewish children when they desire closeness to the father. Perhaps, you yourself have a term of similar closeness for your father like dad, daddy, or pops.
Jesus, referred to God as Abba only once that I can find. Mark records it this way: “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36). Jesus, knowing what was to come, prayed to His Father, calling Him only what Jesus could rightly call Him, and begged His Father Abba to remove the cup. And that breaks my heart.
Our Heavenly Father had but one Son. But, in the garden, though His Abba did provide an angel to calm, He did not take away the cup that would be poured out on His Son. Despite His pleas, Abba, let His Son Jesus finish the mission at the cross. He let His Son take the punishment he did not deserve and pay the debt He did not owe. He let Him die that we might live.
This Sunday, we celebrate the gift of our fathers. But, every Sunday, may we never forget the deep gift of the Abba.