Proclaiming the Word
The Love and Pleasure of God
The Love & Pleasure of God
There are two verses from the gospel Luke that have held me captive for something like the past year. I haven’t put down into words why...or even really told anyone about it...I think because I’m afraid it won’t quite translate and in the process it will lose the power it’s had for me.
But today I’m going to take a leap and hope it translates and is as meaningful to you as it’s been for me.
Are you ready?
Here it is:
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 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 3:21-22
Of course, the baptism of Jesus is a wonderful, perplexing, beautiful, deeply meaningful event that communicates on so many layers. But it’s the voice and the words at the end of it that has grabbed my attention this past year...and more specifically, the moment in Jesus’ life in which the Father speaks them.
“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
And why wouldn’t the Father be pleased with the Son? After all, Jesus would soon:
- Resist the devil in the wilderness
- Cast out demons
- Perform miracles
- Call & train disciples who he’d eventually use to change the world
- Forgive sins
- Draw huge crowds (heal them, exorcise them, feed them, teach them, etc...)
- Seek the lost
- Remain obedient to the Father...
- ...even to death...
- ...even death on a cross
- Providing a way for all of humanity to be reconciled to God.
That’s quite a ministry resume he’s going to develop. It’s no wonder the Father was pleased with him...
...except that none of that had happened yet.
It would have made more sense, from our human, performance-based way of thinking, for God to have opened up the heavens and said this after the feeding of the 5,000 or the raising of Lazarus...or even as Jesus was carrying the cross toward Calvary.
But the Father loves and is well-pleased with the Son before he ever performs a miracle.
Or casts out a demon.
Or calls a disciple.
Or heals a leper.
Or calms a storm.
(Listen closely: he who has ears, let him hear)
Or preaches a sermon.
Or leads a prayer meeting.
Or “finds” an acceptable number of people.
Or draws the right size crowd.
In fact, the Father loves and is well pleased with the Son before he does anything at all in ministry.
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this was not a unique case in which God bent the rules of love and pride for Jesus because of his special nature as the Son. God loves and is pleased with Jesus before he took a step towards the desert because this is how God loves and takes pleasure in his children...
...including me and you.
The love and pleasure of the Father are not grounded in his childrens’ accomplishments and performance.
They are grounded in God’s character.
So, for all the times you spend running after the love and approval of God, remember today that these things you’ve been chasing with your accomplishments have in reality been there from the beginning, before you even took a step into ministry.
And may you find great joy and peace in this truth today.
-Erik Gernand serves as the Lead Pastor at Real Life Community church in Murfreesboro, TN.