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Worship Message - Our Father


Our Father...

In the Gospel of Matthew - in chapters 5 through 7 - we have what is known as the

Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus taught about many aspects of living. How to live

in ways He wants people to live.

For instance - here are just a very few of the things He taught - in chapter 5, Jesus

taught He wants His people to be lights in the world. Lights by which God can be

glorified. And that we are to avoid even anger against a Christian brother. The extent of

anger that would result in taking revenge.

In chapter 7, Jesus taught, among other things, to not judge others and to feel free to ask

for whatever we need, trusting the asking will be answered positively.

It is part of chapter 6, though, that we will be thinking about throughout Lent. Today

through Palm Sunday we will be thinking of what Jesus taught about prayer.

Specifically the Lord’s Prayer.

Also in chapter 6 are teachings to be humble when we pray and to avoid empty phrases

in our prayers. But in verses 9 through 13, Jesus taught a pattern that can be used when

we pray. It is that pattern we are going to concentrate on during this year’s Lenten

season, the theme of which is Teach Us to Pray.

With that in mind, we will each week, highlight one part of the Lord’s Prayer. We

will do that by considering what the words in that part mean. We will also do that by

considering how Jesus displayed the words. How He displayed them by His actions.

Of course, the challenge will be that we will use the prayer, not only in our words, but

also in our actions.

Each week we will also think about the passion of Christ. The passion that led to His

suffering and eventually His death.

Today, a consideration of the first 10 words of Lord’s Prayer. Then how Jesus did what

He taught us to pray - one thing from the very first part of His ministry and two from the

very end of His ministry.

The first 10 words of the Lord’s Prayer are these. “Our Father, who art in Heaven,

hallowed by Thy name.”

In that phrase, there are five words to stress, the first one being Father.

We talked about the word Father in the young adult Bible study a week-and-a-half ago.

The point was made that our earthly fathers can color what we think of God.

For instance, my father always stressed the importance of study. One of his favorite

phrases was, “Learn all you can and can all you learn.” He also frequently said,

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

I find it interesting that is how I often picture God. That God, who is my Heavenly

Father, is pleased when I study. That He is pleased if I work hard.

I have to remind myself that God loves me, no matter what. HHe still would love me

even if I never studied. Even if I was lazy all the time. But I do think He is pleased when

I at least try to do well whatever He gives me to do, including in the area of study.

That is my example related to my earthly father. You can probably think how your view

of God has been affected by your father.

But Father. If nothing else, that title should bring to mind someone who loves you.

Someone who is interested in you. Everything about you. Someone who will do

everything possible to make sure your needs are met. Someone who will go out of His

way to make you happy. Even when that might involve some discipline.

Father. That word in the Lord’s Prayer is intended to bring a warm, satisfying feel to us.

It should remind us God is certainly worthy of being prayed to.

But listen. It is not my Father who is addressed in the prayer, but our Father. Which

means God’s love, concern, care, and discipline extend not just to me, but to you, too.

And to everyone else. That reminds us we can pray for one another. It reminds us of the

common spiritual bond we have. God is our Father.

Who art in Heaven. He is in Heaven. Heaven is where God lives. It is from there He

rules the universe. That is how much power He has.

We also know Heaven is a place of beauty, which befits Him. But it is an important

place. A place for Him and for His people.

Because of who God is and because of where He is - and yes, God is with each of us right

here, which He accomplishes that through the Holy Spirit - but because of who and

where God is, hallowed be His name.

Hallowed. I looked up that word to make sure I understand it. What I found are some

synonyms. “Holy.” “Greatly revered.” “Greatly respected.” I also found the words

“different” or “separate.” All of which means that if are to hallow our Father who art in

Heaven, we are to treat Him differently than we treat others. As in with more reverence.

More respect. We are to place Him above anyone, everyone, anything, and everything

else.

We are to do that with His name, which refers to more than just what He is called.

Name refers to everything about Him. Not only what He does, but His personality and

His strength and His love. And His justice.

Jesus taught, “Pray then like this: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy

name.” That is the first part of what He taught concerning a pattern for our prayers.

But let’s now consider some ways Jesus displayed what He taught, which we will do to

make the point that the prayer is to be more than just words, as important as they are.

The prayer is to be lived. Lived by us, just as it was lived by Jesus.

Of course, there are many, many ways Jesus hallowed the name of our Father, who art

in Heaven. But for today, just three ways, which are recorded in two passages, the first

being in chapter 4 of the Gospel of Luke.

This passage records something that happened shortly after Jesus was baptized.

You will recall the baptizing was done by John the Baptist.

You will recall that as soon as Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came

down from Heaven like a dove and landed on Jesus. Right after that, a voice was heard

from Heaven. It was the voice of God, saying, “This [Jesus] is My beloved Son, with

whom I am well pleased.”

What a wonderful experience the baptism was. It was an experience you would think

would have been followed by parties, opportunities to preach, huge crowds immediately

flocking to Him. It would seem some very public, very positive things would have

followed Jesus’ baptism.

Instead, the Holy Spirit led Jesus away from where He was baptized. Away from crowds

of people. Away from opportunities to begin showing His speaking skills. The Holy

Spirit led Jesus to a wilderness area. An area where Jesus remained for 40 days.

During that time, Jesus ate nothing. In verse 2 of Luke 4 it is reported Jesus was

hungry. I have always been intrigued by that part of the report. I mean, of course He

was hungry. But perhaps that is stated to remind us Jesus came in human form.

For many days - for over five weeks - Jesus was in the wilderness. For all that time, He

ate nothing.

What do you suppose Jesus did during that time? I suspect He spent time in prayer,

asking God to give Him the strength He would need to fulfill the ministry He was about

to start. Jesus wanted to make sure He used the power of the Holy Spirit. He wanted to

make sure He would keep pleasing God. I am sure He prayed about all that.

But then the devil showed up. When Jesus had great hunger, when He might have been

at His weakest - the devil - Satan - showed up. He showed up with three temptations.

The first one started with a challenge. “I You are the Son of God, then command this

stone to become bread.”

You know, there are some stones around - I used to have one in my study - that look a

lot like bread. The one in my study was the size of a small loaf of bread. It was about

the same color as bread. It even had some white markings on the top that could have

been mistaken for flour.

There are actually quite a few such stones in the Holy Land. That kind of rock. And

remember Jesus was hungry. So it was a real temptation when Satan said, “Jesus,

change one of those stones into bread. Eat it and Your hunger will be gone.”

That was a real temptation. But did you catch the first part of what Satan said? “If You

are the Son of God.” A few weeks earlier, right after Jesus was baptized, God had

announced that is who Jesus is. But Satan said, “If You are the Son of God.” What an

interesting attempt to get Jesus to doubt who He was. Who He is.

That same attempt would be made when Jesus, three years later, would be on a cross.

But part of this temptation was the threat of Jesus doubting who He was and is.

What did Jesus do when faced with that temptation? He hallowed the name of our

Father who art in Heaven. He did that by, instead of doing what the devil suggested,

answering, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone.” Jesus’ choice was not

physical satisfaction or comfort, but doing the will of God, which did indeed show

reverence to and respect for God.

With that, the devil took Jesus to the top of a great mountain and showed him all the

kingdoms of the world in a moment of time and said to Him, “To You I will give all this,”

which included all the authority and all the glory that went with it. Satan said he could

do that. That he had the right to do it. And he would do it if - this is what the devil said

- “If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be Yours.”

I will admit that of the three temptations, this one might have attracted my attention

more than the others. Of course, when I am very hungry, I know that is a problem, so

the first temptation would have been difficult, too. But sometimes I wonder what it

would be like to be world famous. What it would be like to have authority or power over

other people.

In my saner moments, I know that fame and power can get kind of old. But Jesus was

offered the entire world to do with whatever He liked. And even though what He would

have liked was to do good for everyone everywhere, there was that one stipulation. The

stipulation that to be given worldwide fame and authority, Jesus would have to worship

Satan.

What did Jesus do when faced with that temptation? Because of the stipulation, Jesus

declined the offer. He instead hallowed the name of our Father who art in Heaven by

answering, “It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you

serve.” Jesus’ choice was not worldly fame or power, but doing the will of God.

With that, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the Temple.

That was the highest part of the center of Jewish worship. On one side was a valley. On

the other side was one of the courtyards. Both were far, far below.

Satan said to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God...” There was that challenge again. The

attempt to get Jesus to doubt. “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from

here. For it is written, ‘He [God] will give His angels charge of You to guard You. On

their hands they will bear You up, lest you strike Your foot against a stone.’”

Do you catch it? Twice Jesus had quoted Scripture to Satan. Now Satan quoted

Scripture to Jesus. Which was an attempt to trick Jesus.

What happened? Was Jesus tricked? Was He fooled. Did He say, “OK,” and then

jump?

No. Instead, He hallowed the name of our Father who art in Heaven. He did that by

answering, “It is also said, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Three times, Jesus was tempted, and all three times, He survived. All three times, He

showed how to accomplish - how to do - how to display - the first part of the Lord’s

Prayer. He did that by knowing and obeying and using to His spiritual advantage the

word of God.

By doing that, Jesus did hallow the name of our Father who art in Heaven. The point

being that we are to do the same. Which means we need to read and study Scripture so

we will know the words and the will of God. So we, too, can use those things to our

spiritual advantage. Knowing that as we do what Jesus did, we, too, will be able to act

out the first part of the Lord’s Prayer.

Luke 4 records something that happened very early in Jesus’ ministry. Something that

happened before He taught the Lord’s Prayer.

Let’s now move on to something that happened long after He taught the prayer.

Something that happened toward the end of His earthly ministry. For that, Mark 14,

beginning with verse 26.

To set the stage, earlier in Mark 14 we are told of the last supper Jesus had with His

disciples, which happened shortly before Jesus’ arrest, which led to Him being tortured

and eventually crucified.

At the last supper, a number of things happened. They had a meal. Jesus introduced

foot washing as a display of a willingness to serve. He also introduced Communion as

He broke bread and gave it to His disciples and as He instructed them to drink from a

cup of wine. He explained that the broken bread represented His body, which was about

to be broken, and that the wine represented His blood, which was about to be poured

out.

Jesus’ explanation of Communion meant He knew all about the suffering He was about

to endure. Then verse 26. I think this is amazing. “And when they had sung a hymn...”

Isn’t that amazing? Jesus was about to suffer. He knew about that. He also knew the

suffering would be brought about by one His own disciples. And He knew which one.

Would you not think Jesus would have maybe moped because of the soon-to-come

suffering? Or that maybe He would have started slapping the one who, according to one

of the Gospels, had already made the decision to betray Him?

Either of those possibilities would certainly have made sense. They could easily have

been predicted. But moping and slapping were not the will of God. Suffering and dieing

were. They were what Jesus was ready to do. So He led His disciples in a hymn. I am

guessing a hymn that expressed reverence to and respect for God. Which again showed

His willingness to hallow the name of our Father who art in Heaven.

A hallowing that continued as Jesus and His disciples, after the hymn, “went out from

where they were to the Mount of Olives.”

That, too, impresses me, in that Jesus could easily have gone away from where He knew

He would be arrested.

You see, the Mount of Olives features, in one section, the Garden of Gethsemane.

Gethsemane is where Jesus had gone many times earlier in times of stress. Judas, the

betrayer, knew that was a favorite place of Jesus. It was there Judas would lead the

arresting authorities.

Jesus could have gone the opposite direction. He could have returned to the wilderness

where He had been earlier. He could probably have eluded the authorities and maybe

stayed safe for the rest of His natural life.

But He did not run away. Why? It was because He knew God’s will, which included

Jesus’ suffering and death. Jesus willingly allowed God’s will to be done.

And listen. It was not easy for Jesus to do that. In the Garden of Gethsemane - this

happened right before His arrest - He prayed that if there was some other way for God’s

will for a Savior to be accomplished, He was fine with that. Jesus prayed that way three

times.

But all three times, He added, “Yet not what I will, but, God, what You will,” which was a

statement that did lead to His arrest, His being tortured, and His death on a cross.

Jesus was willing to let God have His way. That is how He hallowed the name of our

Father who art in Heaven. The point again being that we are to do the same. And no,

we may not ever be called upon to give our very lives. I will admit I hope I never face

that myself. Even if I am, it will not be for someone else’s salvation, or my salvation.

Jesus’ death took care of that.

But may I - may we - be willing to let God have His way for our lives, which again means

we need to read and study Scripture so we will know the will of God. We must do that

so, we, too, will be able to act out the first part of the Lord’s Prayer.

* * * * *

At the end of the Luke’s account of the temptations Jesus survived, there is an

interesting phrase. Yes, Jesus survived the three temptations recorded in Luke 4, but

then it is recorded, “The devil departed from Jesus until an opportune time.” Those last

few words mean Jesus was tempted not only at the very start of His ministry. He was

tempted over and over and over again throughout His ministry, including at the time of

His suffering.

As Jesus stayed true to God even then, may we commit ourselves to learning how to

pray. Like Jesus, may we commit ourselves to respecting - revering - all that our

wonderful, loving, caring Heavenly Father does. All that He is. Amen.

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