“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” – Mark 14:36
Abba. It’s the Hebrew equivalent of “Daddy.” The first word babies can put together, whether they realize it or not.
In this case, a desperate plea: for mercy, for release, for any other way for His will to be done.
My friend Jim lost his faith over this moment in scripture. He had just become the father of a beautiful little boy. Good man. Husband. Science instructor. Could not get past the idea that God could allow His only Son to die when He could have done anything and everything to stop it. Jim’s faith crumbled. Not long after, his marriage crumbled. And his son grew up, of necessity, with a part-time dad.
It’s a moment in scripture that shatters my heart, too.
Because parents have to send our kids out into a world that will have its way with them. We have to let them go. We have to let them live. Sometimes, we have to let them die – because we can’t be with them all the time; and we can’t always keep them safe.
And if you look at it only with respect to one life lost and one death taking place, it will destroy your faith in this incomparable truth, too. But there is so very much more at stake here.
There are the lives of thousands of millions on the line. There is a perfect plan, a uniquely just and merciful scheme of redemption to rescue as many as will through the sacrifice of One. The One knows He must make that sacrifice, both as Father and Son.
So I see it differently than Jim did.
I can see myself letting my strapping 14-year-old son dive into dangerous waters to drag as many drowning others as he could to a deck or a dock where I could pull them to safety. I can see that, as a 50+ year-old, I would have a role in that rescue – and that he, as a strong, excellent swimmer, would be better suited for another role. If he were willing, I would want him to try. And if anything went wrong, I would be right in there with him to make sure he made it to safety, too.
I’m not sure I could live with my conscience – whatever the outcome – if I didn’t let him try.
That would be just the merest human example. The rescued would not even have to be familiar to me for me to want my son to try. They would not have to be other children of mine, estranged from me and yet precious to my heart.
That’s who the endangered are to God, you see; they are and always have been His children – no matter how prodigal; no matter how lost; no matter how hateful and hurtful and proud and rebellious. They are His still children.
And He is their “Abba.”
His Son knew that. So the will of the One who stood by became the will of the One who would die.
Like Father, like Son.