Mark 1: 9-11
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus came to be baptized by John. In approximately sixty words (NIV) something utterly new unfolds. As Jesus lifted up out of the water, Heaven tore open (Jesus' presence tears many things) and fresh revelation descended.
What did the voice of the Father say to his Son at that moment?
1. You are my Son. Identity. God the Father declared Jesus as the Son. His Son. Here’s who you are, Jesus.
2. Whom I love. Position. God the Father proclaimed his love for his Son. This love gave Jesus a position that no one could take from him. It marked him with favor, with the relationship, and with a place.
3. With you I am well pleased. Affirmation. God the Father affirmed his satisfaction with Jesus. With pleasure, he affirmed Jesus.
Why are these three points important to us?
How are they relevant to us? We are not Jesus. No, we are not, but the same things offered to Jesus are available to us. If we accept these points, if we receive them, and if we embrace them, our lives will be radically different.
In the past two weeks, our grandsons have all had birthdays. We bought presents, had parties, and celebrated them. This third birthday is the first time Elijah and Judah were quite aware that it was their birthday.
|Elijah sporting the blue icing on his fish birthday cake!|
|Tatem's 5th birthday. His geode cake!|
|Judah and his Aunt Wivvy monkey cake. Photo credit to Ashley Wellman.|
When I pray for these little boys, I pray several Scriptures over them. This passage of Mark is one I added recently. I want these little boys to know three things as they grow and develop and become. And for them, or any of us, to know we must have the same three things God the Father gave to Jesus.
The boys are learning the connections of family relationships: who is aunt, cousin, uncle, grandfather, and grandmother. Quite often I tell these little boys they are my grandsons. To know this connection helps them to understand their identity. I am their grandmother (I am not the only one who tells them; their grandfathers and parents tell them too). As they learn their familial connections they develop their identity.
We are God’s children. Scripture tells us this repeatedly. We are the adopted children of God. Grafted into his family. We assumed his name. He is our Father. These truths should afford us our identity, not success, wealth, abilities, skills, appearances, or connections.
I tell the boys ALL the time I love them. I whisper in their ears I love you. I love you. I love you. All of them. (Atlas just grins.) Right in their ears, as close as I can get. I do this every time we are together. I do this at random times. Their behavior, their performance, or their abilities do not determine the frequency or the intensity of this practice of mine. I declare my love for them because they are mine. My prayer is that my love coupled with their parents, other grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins will give them a sure position. When people know they are truly loved, not tolerated or indulged, but unconditionally loved their position in this life seems to be more stable and solid. The foundation is laid deep.
We are loved by God. Before the foundations of the world were in place, and even while we were far from him, he loved us. Because of this love he sent his Son to whisper this news in our ears over and over and over. Scripture assures us that this is our position and NOTHING can separate us from this love.
The other phrase my grandsons (and my daughters) often hear from me is that I am proud of them. Incredibly proud. In their accomplishments, developments, successes, and endeavors. But even more I am proud of who they are. I am well pleased with the growth of their character, with the sweetness of their spirits.
During this birthday time, all attention centered on these three little boys. That much attention is hard for even a grown-up to handle. But these boys swelled my Noni-heart. At Elijah’s birthday, he did not pass his birthday cards by uninterested. At three years old he opened them and looked at them and listened to his mama or daddy read them. He expressed the same gratitude for the cards as for the gifts. A close friend of the family commented on Elijah’s thoughtfulness. I beamed. His mama cried.
At Judah’s party, Elijah wanted to blow out the candle too (what child doesn’t want to blow out the candle?). Judah shared his candle and his seat with Elijah, and they took turns blowing out the candle. Judah had several helpers when he opened his gifts; there were no declarations of this is mine, nothing of the these are mine attitude.
I am well pleased with my grandsons, but what if they looked at me each time I said this, and they gave me excuses for why I shouldn’t be proud? What if each time I expressed my pleasure in them they attempted to negate this truth with negative things about themselves? I know the negative, I am not a blind grandmother. I have seen my grandsons not share. I have seen them angry because they did not get their way. I have seen them fight over a toy. But these times do not negate my pleasure in them.
God is pleased with us. And this point is the hardest to accept. This truth is hard to swallow down past the buts and exceptions. We do not believe God can be pleased with us. We know our secret sins, the condition of our hearts, and the state of our spirits. How can God be pleased with us? We don’t pray enough. Study enough. Read the Word enough. We are angry and resentful. We are jealous and envious. We are lustful and vengeful. We are ______________________. How can God be pleased with us? THIS IS HOW: God is pleased with us because of his Son. Grace affords us this place. Grace. When we shun God's affirmation of us, we deny grace.
Father, I thank you for your word—the relevancy of it for us today. It is not a worn-out, archaic book that no longer applies to the modern age. No, Father, your truth is timeless. You know people. You know us. You know what we need. And Father, we need to know who we are. We need to know we are loved. And we need to know that someone is proud of us, that someone is pleased with us. Father, these are essential needs. Your word tells us that you know what we need before we even ask. Father, I pray you would pour out these gifts, supply these needs for these sweet people today. Father, tell them who they are. Remind them they are loved. Assure them you are proud of them. And wherever there is a lack or unbelief, I pray for you to help. In the name of Jesus. Amen