Jesus was just one of the crowd, just another Judean who had gone out to the wilderness to hear that crazy, but compelling, John preach about repentance and forgiveness. That is until he entered the Jordan River. His was the only baptism followed by the heavens being torn apart, a dove descending and a voice like thunder. Wow!
Born to redeem the world, full of the power of the Holy Spirit, yet he submitted to baptism. His baptism was the door through which he entered his public life and ministry.
You’ve probably been baptized. Mine was fairly uneventful, dunked in a tub at my local baptist church. No dove, no voice, just a wet white robe. Maybe you were sprinkled or your parents held you while the priest placed holy water on your head. Whatever form it takes, we follow Jesus into the baptismal waters because we want to be like him. By God’s grace we imitate him. Whatever he does, however he treats people, what we witness of his dependence on his father in heaven, we copy. And amazingly, what is his, he shares with us, including the blessing he received from his father at his baptism.
“You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.” These are the words of blessing God spoke over Jesus at his baptism. They are God’s heart for you as well.
God says, “You are my beloved.” There is comfort and confidence in that title. Also an instruction: Be loved. Again grace rules the day.
Be. Loved. Pause and let those words wash over you as the baptism waters once did.
God continues, “You are my child.” An infant doesn’t choose to be born, it doesn’t pick out its parents or the time it is conceived. In this part of the process, it is passive. God says to you, “I am your perfect father. I purposefully created you out of love. I anticipated your arrival and gloated over your very existence like the proud papa I am. You had nothing to do with it, you are my child because I am your father.”
“In you I am well pleased,” a hard blessing for us to receive. We know ourselves too well, we understand the shortcomings of our character and actions. We deserve God’s judgement, not delight.
Notice, though, Jesus hadn’t done any miracles yet, hadn’t cast out any demons or healed anyone’s mother-in-law. All he’d done was stand in the water. He didn’t earn the blessing of God. He received it.
We have to follow Jesus in this manner. The life of the Kingdom begins with being still and receiving God’s words of blessing. We cannot earn them. In attempting to deserve them we close the door of grace. This identity, as God’s beloved and pleasing child is the foundation of Jesus’ life and ministry. He shares it with you.
Okay, again – really perfect timing. I listened to a sermon online this morning called God is Love from Mosaic church in Portland. Incredibly, the same profound theme you so beautifully articulate here. Clearly something I’m having a hard time letting soak in. And also, I’m receiving this on an unexpected break in a back-to-back day. Feels like God’s gift and insistence that I get this message. Thanks so much, Debby. :):):)
It is obvious God loves you so much, since you receive the message you need at precisely the time you need it! I am humbled to be part of the way God loves you. You are a gift. Debby
Thank you. Completely agree with Alisha. Perfect timing. Hmmmm. . makes one stop and think!