Friday, February 3, 2012
What Jesus Taught About God
“The only one who really knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too.”—LUKE 10:22, CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION.
IN HIS prehuman existence, God’s firstborn Son spent countless ages in close association with his Father. (Colossians 1:15) The Son thus came to know his Father’s thoughts, feelings, and ways. When this Son later came to the earth as the man Jesus, he was eager to teach the truth about his Father. We can learn much about God by listening to what this Son had to say.
God’s name The divine name, Jehovah, was of utmost importance to Jesus. This beloved Son wanted others to know and use his Father’s name. Jesus’ own name means “Jehovah is Salvation.” On the night before his death, Jesus could say in prayer to Jehovah: “I have made your name known.” (John 17:26) It is not surprising that Jesus used God’s name and made it known to others. After all, how could Jesus’ listeners understand the truth about Jehovah without even knowing His name and what it stands for?*
God’s great love Jesus once said in prayer to God: “Father, . . . you loved me before the founding of the world.” (John 17:24) Having experienced God’s love in heaven, Jesus when on earth sought to reveal that love in its many beautiful facets.
Jesus showed that Jehovah’s love is expansive. Jesus noted: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The Greek word rendered “world” does not mean “the earth.” As used here, it refers to humans—really, to all humankind. So great is God’s love for the human family that he gave his most precious Son in order that faithful humans might be freed from the grip of sin and death and have the prospect of everlasting life. We cannot begin to measure the breadth or plumb the depth of such a great love.—Romans 8:38, 39.
Jesus affirmed a most reassuring truth: Jehovah deeply loves his worshippers as individuals. Jesus taught that Jehovah is like a shepherd to whom each one of his sheep is distinct and precious. (Matthew 18:12-14) Jesus said that not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without Jehovah’s knowledge. Jesus added: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:29-31) If Jehovah has the ability to take note that one sparrow is missing from a particular nest, how much more must he observe and care about each of his human worshippers? If each hair on our head can be numbered and noticed by Jehovah, then is there any detail about our life—our needs, our struggles, and our worries—that he cannot know?
Heavenly Father As we noted in the preceding article, Jesus is God’s only-begotten Son. Not surprisingly, this beloved Son most often addressed Jehovah and spoke about Him as his “Father.” In fact, in the first recorded words of Jesus, which he uttered in the temple when he was just 12 years old, he referred to Jehovah as “my Father.” (Luke 2:49) The term “Father” appears nearly 190 times in the Gospels. Jesus variously spoke of Jehovah as “your Father,” “our Father,” and “my Father.” (Matthew 5:16; 6:9; 7:21) By using this designation so freely, Jesus conveyed that a warm and trusting relationship with Jehovah is within the reach of sinful and imperfect humans.
Merciful and willing to forgive Jesus knew that imperfect humans need Jehovah’s abundant mercy. In his parable of the prodigal son, Jesus compared Jehovah to a compassionate, forgiving father who opens his arms to receive back a repentant son. (Luke 15:11-32) Jesus’ words thus assure us that Jehovah looks for any change of heart on the part of a sinful human that would provide a basis for Him to show mercy. Jehovah is eager to forgive a repentant sinner. “I tell you,” explained Jesus, “that thus there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:7) Who would not feel drawn to such a merciful God?
Hearer of prayers In the heavens before coming to earth, Jesus observed firsthand that Jehovah is the “Hearer of prayer” and that He delights in the prayers of his faithful worshippers. (Psalm 65:2) Hence, during his ministry, Jesus taught his listeners how to pray and what to pray for. “Do not say the same things over and over again,” he counseled. He urged his listeners to pray for God’s will to “take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” We may also pray for daily sustenance, to be forgiven for our sins, and to resist temptation. (Matthew 6:5-13) Jesus taught that Jehovah responds in a fatherly way to the prayers of His servants, answering their sincere requests made in faith.—Matthew 7:7-11.
To be sure, Jesus sought to teach the truth about Jehovah and the kind of God he is. But there was something else about Jehovah that Jesus was eager to share—the means by which Jehovah will effect worldwide changes to fulfill His purpose for this earth and humans upon it. In fact, this aspect of Jesus’ message was the theme of his preaching.
The name Jehovah appears some 7,000 times in the original text of the Bible. The meaning associated with that name is “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.” (Exodus 3:14) God can become whatever he deems necessary in order to accomplish his purpose. This name thus guarantees that God will always be true to himself and that whatever he promises will come to pass.