“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)
Very early on in Jesus’s ministry he went to see John the Baptist. As his name implies, John baptised people. That is, he dunked them in water in the Jordan river as a symbol of turning their lives around to follow God and being cleansed. John had a serious question for Jesus: why on earth do _you_ need to be baptised? You’re God’s king – if anything, you should be baptising me! But Jesus convinces him to keep going, saying that it’s the right thing to do.
These verses show us why. Everyone watching this scene had come out to the Jordan river to be baptised by John. They were there to watch people be cleansed and follow God, and to do it themselves. And as they’re there, as Jesus comes up out of the water, heaven opens up. God’s Spirit, who comes to people throughout the Bible to enable them to do amazing things for God, comes and rests on Jesus, as if to say “watch this”.
And then God himself from heaven says, “This guy. My son. This one, right here. I love him. Listen to him.” To all of us watching, wanting to follow God and be cleansed, he says, “Jesus. He’s the one life is about.”
God says this about Jesus twice: here and at the ‘transfiguration’ (Matt 17), where he says very clearly “Listen to him”. Whether it’s the first time or the ten thousandth time, let’s listen carefully to the one God loves dearly.
Thank you for sending Jesus, your Son, who you love. Thank you he shows us how to be truly cleansed, and how to fully turn around and follow you. Help us to listen carefully to him.
Sam Freney is a translation consultant with the Bible Society of Australia. He’s a professional Bible nerd. He works as the specialist in the original languages of the Bible with several translation teams, helping them to accurately communicate the Scriptures in their languages.