For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:14-16)
How often we read this verse, drawing comfort and encouragement for the blood-bought right to approach our God as ‘Daddy’, with all the incredible blessings this brings into our lives in Christ. Yet there is a deeper significance, an eternal circle completed through the work of the cross which is seldom fully explained, but which puts the suffering and sacrifice of Christ into an eternal perspective birthed at the beginning of time and fulfilled in one terrible moment.
To see this, let’s take a walk in the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve are deliberately hiding after their sin. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Genesis 3: 9) Now it cannot be possible for the almighty, omnipotent, all-knowing God to not know exactly where Adam was, and that he was hiding. More important, we need to see this in light of the sin – God could, quite justly, have ‘summoned’ Adam and Eve to appear before the judgement seat. After all, his warning was that, if they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would ‘surely die’, and that truth was why they hid.
But God still came down into the garden. He wasn’t searching for them, because he knew where they were. He came because his father-heart was reaching out. He came because he felt the loss of fellowship, the space their withdrawing from him had left in his heart. His cry of ‘Adam, where are you?’ was one of mourning, a heart-broken cry of loss.
Now let’s look at the cross to see the circle complete. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27: 46) So much is contained in this verse that we could read little else for weeks on end and still not have explored the full measure of meaning it contains. But looking at the cross from the perspective of the garden adds a depth we often miss.
‘Why have you forsaken me?’ is the answering cry to God’s lament in the garden. It is through this heartbroken appeal that we see that, at the cross, Jesus was fully human. He went to the cross not as the Son of God, though he was that in everything, but in this moment he was fully man – so that the scriptures could be fulfilled. He had to go to the cross as a man so that he could take mankind with him. As the Last Adam he could complete the circle.
The broken heart of Christ in this moment is the mirror of the broken heart of the Father. It is the perfect response, the response of restoration. Adam’s response was to hide, and we have been hiding ever since. At the cross, through Jesus, we are finally able to face the utter desolation and face the loss of our fellowship with God. As the the despair of the Father meets the despair of the Son in eternity, so we are brought back to the place of crying out ‘Abba, Father’, and restoration begins.
Abba, Father, help me always to see your father-heart, and hear your father-cry, and to know that it is not only for me but for those still lost without you.