I recently read the story in Mark, Chapter One about the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River under the ministry of His cousin, John the Baptist. Of course Jesus didn’t need to be baptized. He was clean. Without sin. He was God. He was beautiful. But instead of standing to one side and telling us what to do, He jumps right in and identifies with us, His people. He steps into the waters of baptism as a way of saying, I’m for you, and with you.
And something amazing, even crazy, happens. He hears His Father’s voice thunder down from Heaven, declaring “You are My beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). The Father speaks and affirms who Jesus is and tells Him He is so pleased with Him.
Remember, this was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He had not done anything yet. No healings. No preaching. No cross. No resurrection. This voice came first.
A lot of times we do a bunch of stuff and then hope the voice of approval and love will come after that. This could basically describe most people’s lives. It starts when we are young and we work to get good grades so we can be affirmed. Being as religious as we can so others will think we are a good person and a great Christian. We play sports to receive the coach’s ‘well done.’
We hope to hear we are children of God at the end of the road, but God thunders it in the beginning. We hop on the treadmill of life, hoping that when the timer runs out, we will hear, “Well done, My child” or at least “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When, in fact, God declares that over us before we get on the treadmill.
This realization recently puts me on a new journey entirely.
So, let me ask you: Why do you do what you do? Why do you get up and out of bed in the morning? Why do you work? Why do you play sports? Why do you try so hard in school? Is it because you are trying to get the Father to tell you He loves you, or are you giving life all your energy because you know He already loves you? When you live in the latter, you live more freely because you know failure isn’t a deal breaker but an opportunity to learn and get back up again. And that regardless of how often you might fail you are still loved regardless.
Read the same event in Matthew’s Gospel and God the Father says Jesus is a son, a child. He is the Beloved. The word beloved implies a special affection or place in God’s heart for Jesus. But the beautiful thing is when we trust in Jesus, we are wrapped up into Him. So when we are baptized, we are stepping into belovedness. You and I are God’s beloved. Right now!
And the amazing thing is God doesn’t sprinkle His love; He drenches us in it. Just as in biblical days baptism meant total immersion in water so we are totally submerged and saturated in His love. We can, if we are listening, hear Him saying, My child, My child, My child. I am well pleased.”
In a book recently I read this thought: The scandalous thing about Jesus and His baptism is that when God declared He was well pleased in Jesus and that He was the Beloved, Jesus believed Him.
Wow! And, as I think about all of this I wonder if I truly believe it?
How about you?