What is required to receive the Father’s approval?

This week, we continue our journey through Knowing Him / A 50 Day Study in the Life of Christ, by reflecting upon Jesus’ baptism. 

Day 6

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“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.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

At about thirty, Jesus left His home in Nazareth and joined the throngs of people going to hear His cousin, John the Baptist, preach in the Judean wilderness (really a desert). As others were being baptized, Jesus stepped up to the water’s edge to be baptized as well.

Upon being baptized, the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. Is this the moment Jesus’ was filled with the Spirit? It’s hard to imagine that Jesus, the Son of God, was not already filled with the Spirit prior to His baptism. Perhaps this was the moment Jesus was anointed by the Spirit for the call the Father had placed on His life as the Messiah? The Spirit descending in this way was visible for others to see. At least John the Baptist saw it.

I prefer the NIV translation of what the Father says as the heavens open because it makes three very distinct claims about Jesus.

1. You are My Son

2. I love You

3. I am pleased with You

In Matthew, the Father’s voice is recorded as saying, “This is my Son…”. In Mark and Luke, the Father’s voice is recorded as saying, “You are my Son…” So which is it? Matthew’s version would indicate the Father intended others to hear and recognize His affirmation of the Son. They were His intended audience. Mark’s and Luke’s versions would indicate that Jesus Himself was the intended audience. So who was the Father speaking to?

I believe both versions were heard, and both are correct.

Jesus had spent the first thirty years of His life preparing for this moment. At some point, it had been revealed to Him that He was the Father’s Son, the Messiah, perhaps through studying the Scriptures and understanding the Messianic prophecies for Himself. But now, here, as He is about to begin His public ministry, the Father affirms what Jesus had come to believe.

But Jesus wasn’t the only one who would benefit from this affirmation. John the Baptist, His cousin, had also spent the first thirty years of his life preparing for this moment. He had come to understand that he’d been sent in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. This was his calling. This was his sole purpose, what he was born for. So when the Father spoke, saying “This is my Son,” it was a powerful confirmation for John that this was the culmination of his life’s purpose. This moment was what he’d been sent for. John needed to hear the Father’s voice as much as Jesus did.

The three statements the Father makes about Jesus are not only powerful in the message they convey, but also in the prophecies they point to. These three statements draw from the three main sections of Scripture- the Law, the Prophets and the Writings (poetry)- to affirm Jesus’ identity as the Messiah.

1. You are my Son

“I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

2. Whom I love

“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.””‬‬

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭22:2‬ ‭NIV

Isaac was an image of the coming Christ, whom the Father would offer up as a sacrifice for our sins, the Lamb of God.

3. With you I am well pleased

““Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When the Father speaks, it provides both confirmation and affirmation.

Jesus’ identity and purpose were confirmed by the Father Himself.

Jesus’ relationship with the Father, His acceptance and approval, were affirmed by the Father as well.

And think about it. When the Father spoke these words, what had Jesus done? He’d yet to preach, or teach, or heal anyone, or perform any miracles. Jesus’ ministry hadn’t even begun, and the Father said, “I am pleased with you!” The Father’s acceptance wasn’t based upon performance. It was rooted in relationship. “You are my Son, and I love you!” I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of this. 

We all need both of these. Confirmation and affirmation. Confirmation for our heads. Affirmation for our hearts.

This moment launched Jesus into ministry.

Who can I give the gift of confirmation and affirmation to? How can I speak the Father’s purpose and the Father’s love over and into others lives.

Confirmation and affirmation bring courage and strength for whatever lies ahead.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.””

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬