There is nothing more encouraging to a child than to hear “Well done” by a parent. I have heard stories of men who lived their whole lives just to hear a word of approval from their father, only to live in disappointment. Often when children are young, if they don’t receive positive affirmation from their parents, they will act out just to receive attention, because they long for affirmation so much.
As a young man when I began to understand my position in Christ, and that because of Christ, I am deeply loved, completely forgiven and accepted by my heavenly father, it was such a tremendous encouragement. To know, whether my earthly father accepted and approved of me or not didn’t matter, because my heavenly Father does, and He will for all eternity. Now, even more than ever, I want to live up to His approval. Not to make him love me more, but because I am fully loved, I long to live in a way that is worthy of that love.
The Passages: Mark 1:9-11; Matt 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-23
As John’s ministry grows people continue to come from all over the country to hear him preach. News of a messianic messenger created quite a stir. John was telling people to repent. Don’t continue to do the things that have caused God to be silent for the past 400 years. Turn from your sin and prepare for the Messiah to come!
Publicans, tax collectors, Samaritans and the like hear his message and repent! The Pharisees and Sadducees come to observe his sermon and watch the baptisms. But, they are not there to repent, but to report. John’s popularity has become so wide spread that news of his ministry reached remote Nazareth. Pentacost makes these comments: “The news woke great emotions in the home of the Carpenter there, He who had become, since Joseph was not, the head and breadwinner of the little family, knew that His hour was come, and went forth.”
18 years have passed since we saw Jesus in the temple at age 12 (Luke 3:23). Jesus once again begins the long journey from Nazareth toward Jerusalem. This time, instead of heading to Jerusalem, Jesus stays in the Jordan valley and goes where John is preaching and baptizing. Jesus joins those who are getting in line to be baptized.
As Jesus approaches John, John objects, insisting instead that Jesus should be baptizing him. I’m sure John must have been asking himself the question, “Why does Jesus want me to baptize Him? My baptism is for sinners to repent and to commit to following the Messiah when he is revealed. Jesus is sinless, and He IS the Messiah. So, why does He need to be baptized. He should be baptizing me! I’m the sinner.
Matthew recorded Jesus response, (Matt 3:15) “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
- By being baptized, the Messiah identified Himself with the righteousness of the law, showing that He would fulfill all of its righteous demands.
- While Jesus was sinless and was indeed the Messiah Himself, he was also baptized to identify Himself with what John was preaching. Baptism was a public deceleration, identifying themselves with the person and message that was being proclaimed. Those who were baptized by John identified themselves with his message and prepared themselves to accept the Messiah. Jesus wanted everyone to see that He identified, and aligned Himself with John’s message.
- His baptism identified Him with sinners, as it says in II Corinthians 5:21: Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. He took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh to be identified with sinners.
- John had been told “the one whom the Spirit descends upon and remains is the Messiah.” (John 1:33) Jesus needed to be baptized, so that the Spirit would ascend, to fulfill what had been foretold to John. The baptism, then, was to release John to make a public announcement concerning the coming of Christ.
John, and those who were there, witnessed something amazing! As Jesus is coming up out of the water the heavens opened and God’s Spirit descended in a form that looked like a dove. As the Spirit came to rest on Jesus, they all heard a voice that came from heaven. The voice said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased!”
Pentacost comments, “In the prayer we see a relationship of Christ to the Father. Christ was dedicating Himself to the Father’s will and work. We see a relationship of Christ to the Holy Spirit: the Spirit descended on Him to empower Him in the work He was to do.
“John had prepared the people for this momentous event. The Father had confirmed the appointment of the Son to the messianic work. Now the Son was officially presented by the designated forerunner to the nation Israel with God’s full approval of His person and work.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
I really like Ken Gire’s take on this story in “Moments With the Savior”. So I am going to divert a little from my norm for this devotion. I want to just paste what he wrote, because I think he captures well what God was doing.
“What has this Son accomplished to merit such approval? He hasn’t taught in the synagogue or triumphed over Satan. He hasn’t preached a sermon or cast out a demon. He hasn’t healed a sick person or made a single disciple. He hasn’t done anything special, let alone spectacular. So why was his Father so pleased?
Maybe it was the same pleasure Joseph had when he saw the young Jesus standing next to him in the shop, miming his every move as he worked the wood with his hands. Though the boy had not made anything of his own, he was so eager to learn and so willing to work. He was so attentive to his father’s voice and so submissive to his instructions. He went about his apprenticeship with such joy, humming his way through the day. For he delighted in working with his father. Even if he was given the lowliest of work to do. Regardless of whether it was stooping to pick up scraps of wood or sweeping the sawdust off the floor.
Jesus’ baptism marked his passage into a new apprenticeship. The apprenticeship of suffering. It would be the hardest work he would ever do. And the lowliest.
But he would be working with his Father, listening to his every word, following his every instruction. And he would be working with delight.
What father wouldn’t be pleased with a son like that?
- What can I learn from this?
- What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
At the end of each devotional, Ken Gire finishes with a prayer. While these are his words, I have been challenged to make this prayer my own.
Thank you for being such a good Son. For your eagerness to learn from your Father. For your willingness to do his work. For your attentiveness to his voice and your obedience to his will.
While you were on earth, you said you could do nothing on your own but only what you saw the Father doing, and could speak nothing on your own but only what the Father had taught you.
Your dream in life was to fulfill his. To see his dream for the world come true. To see his dream for individuals come true. Help me to see people like that, Lord. To see what they could be if his dream for their life was fulfilled. And then grant me the grace, I pray, so my words and actions might serve to help that dream come true.
Help me to realize that many of those dreams would never come true apart from suffering. And that even though you were a beloved Son, you learned obedience from the things you suffered. If that was true for you, how much more must it be true for me.
Give me such a oneness with the Father that his dreams would be my dreams. That his will would be my will. That his words would be my words. And that the driving ambition in my life would be to please him.
Lord, the last words you spoke to your disciples were about your Father. In that upper room you said you would continue to work so that the love the Father has for you would be in them and in us.
Could that be true? Is it possible I could love you the way the Father loves you? Even remotely possible? Could I delight in you the way he delights in you? Could you be the passion of my life the way you are his?
If so, Lord Jesus, I pray you would give me that love, that delight, that passion.
I know the Father loves me simply because I am his child. I only hope that someday, when he looks down from heaven at my life, he will be well pleased with this child.
And I know if I spend the rest of my life loving you the way he does, he will be.