Good morning from Liverpool, New York! Our reading for this Monday, February 02, 2015 is
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.”
I’ve always wondered who heard this voice from heaven. Luke wasn’t present to witness this; he is a second generation follower of Christ, a non-Jew and a companion of the apostle Paul. He tells us at the beginning of his account that he researched all these things that he was to share, but he was not there. The account of Jesus’ baptism and this divine revelation is mentioned in each of the four gospel accounts so this incident was commonly known by all who became His disciples.
In both Matthew’s and Mark’s account the strange mention of “he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon him like a dove, ” but who this person was is not certain. It was nor the crowd because he is a singular pronoun. John makes it clear for us by clarifying that it was John the Baptizer who saw the dove and no one else. This manifestation identified for John that Jesus was the one he had waited for and proclaimed was soon to come. It was part of the testimony I imagine the BaptIst shared with his disciples and the reason Andrew and John (the author of the gospel bearing his name) went to check Jesus out. Having confirmed Jesus’ identity as the promised Jewish Messiah, they went to share the news with others and the incident became part of the gospel narrative.
The witness of the Baptist confirmed for them Jesus’ identity as the unique Son of God. It goes into a treasury of other internal evidences for our trust in Jesus. It also confirmed our claim of the sinlessness of Jesus which is the basis for our claim that He is “God manifest in the flesh.” Only God is perfect without sin and since sin is part of our nature God cannot be pleased with us. There is no human being who is righteous so the psalmist claims boldly, yet here is a human being whom God claims pleases Him. We are baptized for the remission of our sins; Jesus’ baptism was to fulfill human righteousness, meaning His humility, but without a profession of sin. Only by a moral sinlessness could we dare say that Jesus could die for our sins, for had He sin Jesus could die only for His own since the “wages of sin is death.”
It gets more personal than providing evidence for the claim of faith in Christ; it is through faith in Him that we find our sins forgiven and by this righteousness God will claim us as His children and pleasing to God. It is an imputed righteousness for no one, even after a profession of faith will be fully righteous and without sin. Jesus’ righteousness satisfies God’s demand that humanity be righteous in as much as one human being achieved such status, Jesus. Jesus’ human righteousness and sacrifice on our behalf provides the incentive to strive to be morally righteous, and the same Holy Spirit is the gift Christ offers us to empower our progressive righteousness. Our of gratitude for the love of Christ for us we are compelled to live our lives to be pleasing to Christ, and since Christ is God, God can and will be pleased with our moral development in becoming like Jesus, the only human to please God.
The disciple of Christ possesses the longing to please God. We long to hear in our inner mind God saying that He is pleased with us. With every temptation and moral challenge met by faith and reliance on the assistance of God we possess a realistic hope of feeling God’s pleasure. With every positive affirmation provided by the Holy Spirit, even as it was for Jesus, our dedication to being found faithful is reaffirmed.The more we feel God’s approval the greater will be our resolve to keep it.
Are you feeling it! I mean, do you have the witness in your spirit that your life is pleasing to God? If it is then we will want to keep “that loving feeling” to steal a title of a song. As a young child, and even now as an adult child, I long to hear the voice of my parents pride in me, but beyond their affirmation I long for God’s affirmation. It is my divine obsession as I hope it is yours.
Blessings! Dr. Brian Homan