The Lord's fourth cry from the cross was a direct quotation from Psalm 22.1. In that verse a question is asked and this is the only time we read of the Lord addressing a question to God. The answer to the question is given in the third verse of the Psalm, and the answer is, "But thou art holy". We are told that God is too pure to behold evil and cannot look on iniquity (Hab 1.13). God "laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Is 53.6). Our sins were laid by God on His beloved Son who was our Substitute, and the inflexible holiness and justice of God demanded that the sin offering should be punished. That punishment included being forsaken by God. The Lord could not then address God as "Father", for God was acting as Judge. Sin was judged, condemned and punished.
The Lord's previous utterances on the cross had been for the benefit of others and had been drawn from Him by His mercy, grace, love and compassion, but when He cried, "My God…", then, for the first time He gave a cry which was caused by His own sufferings. The Lord knew that when His soul would be made an offering for sin (Is 53.10) He would be forsaken by God, but He knew also that after He had finished the work He came to do on the cross, communion would be restored eternally, and ultimately He would see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied (Is 53.11). Three of the Lord's utterances on the cross were prayers. In His first He prayed, "Father, forgive them" (Lk 23.34). The second time He prayed He said, "My God…" (Mt 27.46), and the third time He addressed God as, "Father" (Lk 23.46).
When one of the Lord's disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples", the Lord began His answer to the request by saying, "When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name" (Lk 11.1-2). The Lord was not joining them in that prayer. In teaching them to use the words, "Our Father", the Lord immediately established the basis of their prayers as that of a father being addressed by his children, and down the centuries believers have addressed God in prayer as children praying to the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who is their Father. To avoid their forgetting the privilege and dignity of their blessed position as sons of God and becoming over familiar with the Almighty God who, by grace, they addressed as Father, the Lord said, "…which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name". God the Father must be addressed at all times with becoming reverence.
The Fatherhood of God in relation to His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is different in nature and essence from His Fatherhood in relation to the disciples and believers today. God is the eternal Father of His eternal Son. The relationship is eternal: it had no beginning. The relationship between God the Father and a believer, as a son of God, had a beginning in time. That relationship began as soon as the sinner was saved by grace, and the relationship is eternal from that point onwards. From that moment, those of us who have been saved have had the Holy Spirit dwelling within us (1 Cor 6 19), and the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God (Rom 8.16). In the model prayer, the disciples were taught to pray "forgive us our sins" (Lk 11.4). These words would not be used by the Lord because He is eternally holy, and "in him is no sin" (1 Jn 3.5).
After the resurrection, the Lord appeared to Mary and said to her, "…go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (Jn 20.17). The Lord referred, for the first time, to the disciples as "my brethren", and differentiated between the Fatherhood of God in relation to Himself and to believers.
Natural children usually show some of the characteristics of their fathers and it behoves those of us who are, by grace, the sons of God to seek to be conformed more to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom.8.29), so becoming more and more like God our heavenly Father (Mt 5.43-48).
There are times when a parent has to discipline and correct a child. The child will not enjoy it, but the discipline is carried out for the benefit of the child and because the parent loves the child. In the same way, "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Heb 12.6). As believers, we will dislike being chastened, but if we recognize that the chastening comes from our loving heavenly Father, we should examine ourselves before Him to find out the reason for, and purpose of, the chastening. If we then respond by doing His will, He will be glorified and we shall be blessed (Heb 12.11).
An earthly father can find great delight in his new son or daughter who has just been born, but if that child does not grow normally and develop physically and mentally this can cause great sadness. God, our Father, wants us to grow spiritually, to know Him better, and to know Him better is to love Him more. This love will produce a desire to worship and serve the Father in accordance with His will and for His glory. We should worship and praise Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, as led by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2.18). Babies need feeding, and we should feed continually on the Word of God (1 Pet 2.2), which will show us our present spiritual condition and the way in which we should obey and serve God (Ps 119.105).
Prayer, praise and thanksgiving are instinctive for a Spirit-led believer, and we are told to "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil 4.6). As we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God and the Lord Jesus (2 Pet 3.18), we will find that our faith will be tested. Such testing is intended to strengthen our faith and, by the grace of God, we will learn to trust and obey Him more fully. We will become more experienced in the things of God and be able to say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" (1 Sam 7.12). We will be enabled, by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Cor.6.19), to do those good works which will please God our Father and which He ordained that we should do (Eph 2.10; Col 1.10).
Evidence of our growth in grace will be seen in our increasing love for God, other believers, and those who are lost (Jn 13.35; 2 Thess 1.3). We are told in Ephesians 5.2 to "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour".
The truth of the Fatherhood of God and the eternal relationship existing between God and each child of God is to be enjoyed by believers. How good it is to meditate on the words of 1 John 3.1: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God". Our God and Father loves us and He wants us to be with Him in heaven where there is fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore (Ps 16.11).