I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but the title and name that brings me more joy (and stress) than all the others is father.
Having my small daughters run up to me when I get home from work yelling “Daddy! Daddy!” Listening to my sons describe a personal accomplishment, “Dad, you’ll never guess what happened!”
Those are irreplaceable moments that I deeply cherish because of the relationship I share with them. I’m their father and that means more than I could express.
For Jesus, He has had that deep personal relationship with God the Father for eternity. Stretching back, beyond the dawn of creation, that connection was there. Except the one instance when it wasn’t.
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus refers to God as His Father. It’s how He teaches His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9). It’s what He cried out in the garden (Matthew 26:39), longing for another way to achieve His purpose.
The only name Jesus addresses God with in Matthew is “Father.” Except the one time when He doesn’t.
As Jesus is enduring the punishment of the cross, Jerusalem goes black. This is no standard celestial event. The longest possible eclipse is 7.5 minutes. The skies were dark for three hours (Matthew 27:45).
In this moment, the darkness of sin poured out on Jesus is palpable. The One who knew no sin became sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) and creation became dark.
Immediately following these three hours, Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This is the first line of Psalm 22, a psalm of David that speak of the horrors of the cross centuries before crucifixion even existed.
There is no doubt that Jesus meant to point His hearers—both in that moment outside of Jerusalem and those in our age—to the prophetic nature of the psalm.
Yet, we should not overlook or ignore the fact that as Jesus is suffocating on the cross, gasping for breath, he forces out a prayer, but does not say, “Father.”
This is the one instance in the entire Gospel of Matthew where Jesus speaks to His Father, but does not call Him that.
Jesus did not call Him “Father,” so that you and I—anyone who trusts in Him for salvation—could have that privilege.
Jesus was abandoned by God, so that you and I could be adopted. He became an orphan to bring the fatherless to the Father.
He endured agonizing separation from the Father that He had never known through eternity past so that I could be brought near.
Yet, how casually do I treat that relationship? How flippantly do you regard the fact that you can call God your Father?
The only reason I am able to start my prayer with “Father…” is because Jesus endured those hours when He could not.
The one instance where Jesus did not call God “Father” means that I can call God “Father” for an eternity.
This post originally appeared on TheWardrobeDoor.com