When John F. Kennedy was president of the US, photographers sometimes captured a winsome scene. Seated around the president’s desk in the Oval Office, cabinet members are debating matters of world consequence. Meanwhile, a toddler, the 2-year-old John-John, crawls around and inside the huge presidential desk, oblivious to White House protocol and the weighty matters of state. He is simply visiting his daddy.

That is the kind of shocking accessibility conveyed in the word Abba when Jesus said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You” (Mark 14:36). God may be the sovereign Lord of the universe, but through His Son, God became as approachable as any doting human father. In Romans 8, Paul brings the image of intimacy even closer. God’s Spirit lives inside us, he says, and when we do not know what we ought to pray “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (v.26).

Jesus came to demonstrate that a perfect and holy God welcomes pleas for help from a widow with two mites and a Roman centurion and a miserable publican and a thief on a cross. We need only call out “Abba” or, failing that, simply groan. God has come that close to us.