If you will open your eyes, you can begin to see that the Baptism of Jesus is a story of great, great hope for you and me right now. Before I get into the really good stuff, let me lay a little groundwork.
Modern history scholars view such events in the Bible with a great degree of skepticism. So, it is truly fascinating for me to read their writings, and to understand why most modern historians believe that the Baptism of Jesus was an actual, historical event. For me, their particular reasonings confirmed the angle and direction that I chose to write about in my last post. I really feel that I am on to something, and that is exciting.
I believe that the Baptism under John the Baptist was the closest that Jesus came to experiencing our conversion experience. As I said in my last post, He is sinless; Yet, He knows what it is like to experience “metanoia” and can lead any of us. Since I wrote my last post, I have discovered that part of John’s purpose (“make His paths straight”) means to “euthus” or to remove the delays from His path. Who can argue against the before-and-after difference in His life? It is a marvelous thing to ponder that God has both the experience of being human, and of experiencing humanity-at-large. Jesus is our brother from another mother!
What other God in world religion has suffered the human experience on such a base level to submit Himself under the ministry of another human (John the Baptist)? This impresses me far more than any miracle. It really happened.
So, I want you to carefully read Matthew 3. I want you to use your imagination to go back into that moment of history. Now, here is a question that my wife challenged me to take my time and think deeply about: If you were standing on the banks of the Jordan River, what would be the most memorable portion of that historical event? What would stand out the most for you? Well, we both came up with the same answer, and then we began to have the same experience.
If you were there standing on the banks of the Jordan, what would be the most memorable event of that day?
Watching a man who eats locusts? Maybe. Would it be the realization that this man was dressed EXACTLY like the prophet Elijah (compare vs. 4 with 2Kings 1:8)? Perhaps. I think it would be this:
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Hearing an audible voice coming from the sky would either cause me to repent and dive headfirst into the Jordan, or I would join the nearest UFO encounter club! Hearing THAT voice would probably be the most memorable event for me.
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”Wow. That is the GREAT Affirmation! It is sooooo much better than that OTHER affirmation in Matthew 3 to those outside of Christ, “You brood of vipers”. What a contrast! Which group are you in?
Did the Son of God really need the affirmation? Father God doesn’t waste words. If it wasn’t needed, He wouldn’t have said it. It wasn’t just for the sake of the onlookers, it was for Jesus too. You see, a man who is human enough to get hungry, get thirsty, and need sleep, is a man who is human enough to need affirmation. If yes, then what about us?
What about you? Where do you go for truthful affirmation? Is someone affirming only what you do, or are they genuinely and creatively affirming who you really are? Who are you? Are you confused? Are you a human being having a spiritual experience, or are you a spiritual being having a human experience? What is being advertised to you? I’m a newly created child of God. I have to remind myself continually.
What genuine relationship can thrive without affirmation? The Great Affirmation speaks to the reality of their relationship/friendship. All real relationships need affirmation on a continual basis. We know God affirmed Jesus more than once in a public manner.
I like to keep things fresh and “in the now”. I’ve made it a lifelong practice to tell my wife, “I love you today”, “I love you this afternoon”. “Te quiero esta noche!” She knows I love her always, but I want her to know that it is fresh at this very moment…everyday. All lasting fires need fresh logs thrown in. God wants you to be freshly reminded of who you really are.
Are you being reminded about your relationship with God? The spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of god.–Romans 8:16. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”–1 John 3:1. If you’re not hearing this both WITHIN and from WITHOUT, why?
Do you want to be like the Father? Become more affirming! Step out and start doing it. Challenge yourself, your friends, your family, and your church to find ways to practice real affirmation.
Believe it or not, real spiritual affirmation is lacking in most of our lives. It is often lacking amongst our families, amongst our friends, and in our churches. When was the last time a family member really assured you and pointed out what a wonderful child of Heaven you are? That is what the Father did for Jesus, and Jesus needed spiritual affirmation to survive.
Survive? That’s correct. Right after being told He was the Son of God, Satan began immediately to tempt Him in Chapter 4 by questioning whether or not He was the Son of God. Satan said, “If you are the Son of God…then prove it!” You may find this hard to believe, but I believe that Jesus may have been tempted to doubt. His self-identity was under attack. Why else would Satan throw this at Him? Isn’t “doubt” often the foundation or an element for any temptation? Isn’t doubt our greatest temptation? If He wasn’t tempted to doubt, then this was not a real temptation.
Jesus was tempted to doubt who He was, and to doubt something about His relationship with the Father (“If you are the Son of God”). Why would you be tempted any differently? Most of us don’t even realize how deadened we’ve become. To many, hearing that you are a child of God has been relegated to the logical fact file of your mind, rather than something that feels like a glowing ember in your heart.
What is the antidote for doubt? For staleness? Real affirmation. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. You need to have a fresh word from God. The word of God to you is founded upon your relationship to God. If you doubt who you are in Christ, or if it is stale, then everything else is moot. If you have shadows in your light, then all is diminished. The more affirmed you are, the greater your potential for everything else.
Jesus needed Spiritual affirmation and so do you. Ask for it. Go after it. Rip away whatever prevents you from receiving this fresh word of assurance that Jesus said He needed more than bread itself (See Matthew 4). Then take the affirmation/confirmation/revelation/assurance that you have been given and share it with someone else. Be like your Father.