“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
- Mark 1:9-11
Children grow up and desperately seek their parents’ affirmation and approval... until the teenage years. Then, they secretly still crave it while they behave in many contrary ways. Athletes seek the affirmation of their coaches, and students long for the approval of their teachers. We love affirmation! We love affirmation because we are glory magnets. Remember, we are made in the image of the triune God. In him is the fullness of glory. If God is all-glorious, then everything that he does reflects that glory. As people made in his image, we are created to also reflect glory. The problem is that our glory magnets get broken through the years. We forget that the source of our glory is God; it is not our works, our approval ratings, or even our righteousness. The result is that we seek our own glory. We perform, strive, compete, and always seek to prove our value and worth. It is an exhausting quest for glory that never seems to truly fulfill us.
Thankfully, the life of Christ modelled a different way, a better way. On this day when Jesus was baptized, he had not done any ministry. The glory of Jesus was that though he was fully human, he was also fully divine. In his divinity, Jesus experienced all the temptations of human nature but remained without sin. Despite his sinless record, Jesus chose to identify with the sin of mankind. Requesting to be baptized by John demonstrated his identification with the nation of Israel and with us. Though perfect, Jesus went under the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of sin. As he rose out of the waters, something unthinkable occurred. The heavens were torn open, and the Spirit descended like a dove upon him. To explain this remarkable occurrence, a voice came from heaven with the words we all long to hear: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”
(verse 11). Before Jesus had done anything on behalf of the Father and the kingdom of God, he was loved by the Father. The Father not only loved him but was pleased with him.
What we see in Jesus is the perfect Son but also the mystery of God’s love. His love for Jesus was not based on Jesus’ good works, the miracles he performed, or his great preaching and teaching. God’s love for Jesus was because he was his Son. As the Son and as part of the Trinity, Jesus belonged to the Father. He was family.
In Jesus, we are made part of God’s family. When we undergo the waters of baptism, all our sin is washed away; we have a clean slate. Instead of the sin, we are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is given to us just as if we had lived a perfect life. Jesus did what we could not do so that we could enjoy a relationship with the Father. And not just any relationship – we are his sons and his daughters. When he looks upon his, he is pleased for he sees us through his Son.
Lent is a season in which we are to turn from our sins and turn whole-heartedly back to the Lord. It is also a season in which we are called to marvel at the righteousness that has been given to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus, too, was called to deny himself, to pick up his cross, and to surrender to the will of the Father. Because of his perfect obedience, we have the gift of salvation, eternal life, and forgiveness of our sins. We are called to live as people who have been washed clean, people who want to remain clean so that the glory of the Father can be reflected through our lives.
Our identity is found in being called the children of God – his beloved children and the children in whom he is well pleased. This Lenten season, may we embrace this identity and all the affirmation that comes with it! There is no reason to perform, to strive, or to compete. We have perfect righteousness and the promise of glory through the Son! Reflection:
How are you seeking affirmation in this world? What would it look like for you to surrender your seeking and to start resting in what has been done for you? You are already loved, delighted in, and fully affirmed in the eyes of your heavenly Father.