June 15, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 3:21-22 (NRSV)
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Though you probably won’t hear a heavenly voice today as Jesus did when he was baptized, the good news is still crystal clear. Through Jesus, the beloved Son, you are God’s daughter or son. God loves you more than you will ever fully comprehend. God delights in you and claims you as his own.
The baptism of Jesus must have been quite a spectacle. Even before Jesus showed up, John the Baptist drew the crowds with his prophetic preaching and dramatic baptisms. But when Jesus appeared one day to be baptized, several astounding things happened. First of all, the heavens opened. (Forgive me for picturing the wormhole above New York in the first Avengers film.) Then the Holy Spirit descended from heaven “in bodily form like a dove.” (Wouldn’t you love to have seen that!) Finally, a voice from heaven, God’s own voice, said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
We can only begin to imagine what that experience was like for Jesus. Surely he had learned from his parents about his unique calling and birth. They must have passed on to Jesus what they had learned from the angel. We don’t know how Jesus experienced his Heavenly Father throughout his life, though we rightly suppose that this was a deeply intimate relationship. But, as far as we know, it was at his baptism that Jesus heard for the first time the words, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Did Jesus feel surprised? Affirmed? Overwhelmed? Special? Deeply loved? All of the above and much more?
I have no doubt that my own father loved me and was pleased with me. But he had a very difficult time expressing his love in words. I can still feel the awkwardness when he would respond “I love you, too” to my words, “I love you, Dad.” I know my dad was proud of me. But he could never just say it. The words “With you I am well pleased” didn’t escape from his mouth, though I know they were in his heart.
Thus, when I read Luke’s account of Jesus’s baptism, I find in myself a deep yearning for affirmation from a father. I won’t be able to get that in this life from my dad because he’s been with the Lord for over 30 years. But, as I reflect, I realize that what I want most of all is to know that my Heavenly Father is pleased with me. I want to know that I am his beloved. Of course I realize that the Father’s love for Jesus was unique. But I also know that, through Jesus the Son of God, the Father loves me (John 14:21-23; John 16:27; 1 John 3:1). I need this knowledge to percolate down from my head to my heart (Romans 5:5).
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind a voice from heaven affirming the Father’s love for me. Perhaps you feel similarly. But, whether or not that ever happens, we hold on tight to the good news of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. We believe that the God who knows us through and through has adopted us to be his beloved children (Ephesians 1:5). We claim the promise of Psalm 149:4, affirming that “the LORD takes pleasure in his people,” and, through Christ, that includes you and me.
So, though you probably won’t hear a heavenly voice today as Jesus did when he was baptized, the good news is still crystal clear. Through Jesus, the beloved Son, you are God’s daughter or son. God loves you more than you will ever fully comprehend. God delights in you and claims you as his own.
When you read the story of Jesus’s baptism, what strikes you? What do you think? How do you feel?
In what ways have you experienced God’s love?
Do you believe that God takes pleasure in you? If so, why? If not, why not?
Ask your Heavenly Father to give you a deeper experience of his love for you and his pleasure in you. Pay attention to how God answers this prayer.
Heavenly Father, we marvel as we read about the baptism of Jesus. How amazing it must have been for those who witnessed that spectacle. And how amazing for Jesus to hear of your special love and delight in him.
Father, I believe the good news of your love for me in Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important to me in life. Yet, there are times when my heart aches to experience your love in a deeper way. So I ask that you might once again pour your love into my heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). May I know, almost as if I actually heard your voice, that you love me and take pleasure in me. Amen.
This devotion is part of the series, Following Jesus Today. You can read the series. here.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling Archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Epiphany: The Appearing of God in Jesus Christ and Through Us