Pulpit Reflections

By Pastor Steve Ford

Grace Baptist Church

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)

I’ve been thinking about this passage and want to offer some observations, interpretations, and applications from it:

Observation #1 – The Father’s affirmation “with you I am well pleased” follows after his affirmation, “You are my son, whom I love”.

Observation #2 – The Father’s pleasure or delight was in response to Jesus’ baptism, a public display of his obedience to God’s desire and plan to bear our sin and guilt.

Observation #3 – “well pleased” was said before Jesus completed all he was sent to do.

God the Father’s love for his children is constant and unconditional.  It is not given, withheld, or measured in response to their behavior.  Life rests on this foundational truth.  But this is not the end of the matter.  God wants more for us than just to know that he loves us.  He wants to share love with us in a vital relationship and that’s why our behavior matters.  The order is significant here.

At his baptism, God first affirmed his love for Jesus, then responded to his behavior by expressing pleasure.  God’s love for his Son is unchanging, but he was well pleased with Jesus at this particular moment because Jesus had chosen to trust the father’s plan and had publicly assumed his messianic responsibility.  John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.  Jesus had no sin for which to repent, so he did not need John’s baptism.  He had no sin of his own, but the Father had given Jesus the task of taking on the sins of the world.  Jesus’ baptism was a public acceptance of his responsibility to do so. His earthly ministry began with this public assumption of the responsibility God gave him and ended with the fulfillment of it on the cross.  God didn’t wait for Jesus to complete his responsibility before expressing his delight in him.  He was delighted at that moment and he wanted his Son to know it because God is personal and relational.  God loves his children because he loves his children.  It is an unconditional choice and a reflection of his character.  But as a Father, he also delights in those moments when his child’s heart is one with his own.  I didn’t hear God’s voice on that day, but I suspect it sounded a lot more like George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” than the burning bush voice in “The Ten Commandments”.

God is a father in the purest sense of the term.  He loves proactively and unconditionally and that will never change.  When you reject his plan and pursue your own, he will not reject you.  He will stay near and engaged in your life, longing for your return from your prodigal journey.  But at every moment you chose to trust him and embrace responsibility for the life he has planned for you, joy awaits you.  Not cheap, impersonal joy, but the joy of being united in heart with the God who created life, love, and you.  Rest in his love and there you will find peace.  Seek his pleasure and there you will find joy.

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