This Is My Son!

“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.”

Hear the waters rippling against the sandy banks of the Jordan bustling over with repentant Jews eager to confess their sins. Grandmas, grandpas, mammas and daddies all pressed around to make public their wrong doing. Compelled by the prophet’s call to make things right with God.

Because each of them had an inward witness of their sin. The baptizer was only reminding them of what they already knew…they had all fallen short of God’s glory as seen in the Torah. They all felt compelled to come to the Jordan and receive their baptism of repentance of sins, in hopes their shame, their guilt, and their fears would be swept down the cold currents of the river.
But into this dramatic scene of remorse, confession and repentance steps the truest Israelite of them all. He moves through the crowd of the young and the old, hardly noticed at first because of his quiet and sweet demeanor. But weeping eyes of guilt and remorse begin to transform into astonished stares. Heads begin to turn because this hardly noticed, ordinary looking, young Jewish man is carrying a magnetic presence. People who had come to confess sins and be baptized, now just stand speechless, with their gaze singularly transfixed on the one they have always only known as the carpenter’s son, Jesus of Nazareth.

The eccentric wilderness prophet, with camels hair pressed against his weathered and sun tanned skin, is also swept up in the moment. He knows Jesus, his cousin, and the rest of the family. Never short on words, this time John can find no words. A realization begins come over him. Something of a veil begins to fall from his eyes as he, for the first time, looks beyond the cousin he has always known. It is as if a distant memory from decades ago comes through the long dark tunnel of his mind. Something he always knew, from birth, but was now able to recover once again. His cousin Jesus, was no ordinary man.
John pulls away from the face of Jesus for a moment, and looks at the crowds. They are no longer looking at John. They are not waiting for John to speak. To call out their sin. To call them into repentance. He notices that they are only looking to Jesus. It is then that it occurs to John, that his baptism was a baptism of repentance of sins. And as Jesus approached him with a knowing smile of contentment on his face, John suddenly realizes how terribly wrong it would be for Jesus to submit to such a baptism.

In what seemed like an eternity, John suddenly blurted out:
“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

As he said it, the weight of his words fell heavier upon his heart. He felt this surreal combination of unworthiness and supreme honor. Any speck of doubts about the true identity of Jesus instantly rushed away as John looked upon Jesus’ face, whose peaceful expression was unchanged as the words fell upon his ears and he responded,
 “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
Those words seemed to hang in the air. By all appearances John was already beginning to wade deeper into the waters for a place deep enough to submerge this familiar stranger. But his mind was frozen, locked into the odd combination of words found in Jesus’ statement, “to fulfill all righteousness”. In what way would this baptism fulfill all righteousness? This fervent preacher of the law and of the prophets was perplexed by this question, but still drawn in by Jesus’ invitation.
Could this be the one the Lord had told him about? Is his own cousin the one who would baptize all of humanity in the Holy Spirit and of fire? The only way to verify this would be to witness the sign that God had given him, “‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

The crowd looks on with a curiosity that goes beyond novelty. Similar to John, something is not aligning with what they see in the natural. They can sense something more is at work here. Something of profound significance. But it escapes their comprehension. It is veiled by a force that cannot be articulated. Seemingly so close yet entirely out of reach. So they watch. They hear no words from the prophet. No pronouncement. Only the splashes of water from Jesus being submerged under the controlling guidance of John’s hands.

It had to be John. He knew this now. It’s like it all made sense. He was a preacher of the law and the prophets, clearing a path for the Lord, the lamb who would take away the sins of the world. As he peered through the waters at the face of Jesus, he could also see his own face transposed over Jesus, reflected from the water’s surface. For a moment, the two faces morphed into one, and he could barely distinguish his own face from the face of Jesus. It was then that he suddenly realized that his assignment was complete. The reason for his life was now fulfilled.

And then, Jesus emerges from the Jordan River, and all of the world seemed to voluntarily come to a complete standstill of hushed reverence.

“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.”

Before the miracles. Before the teachings. Before the healings. Before the signs. Before the confrontations. Before the rejection. Before the suffering. Before the crucifixion. Before the death. Before the resurrection. Before the ascension.
There is this moment. Frozen in all of eternity. May we all have eyes to see it.
See the love of a Father.
The honor of a Son.
The glory of His Spirit.

Perfect unbreakable union and communion: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each distinct and unique, yet somehow mysteriously dissolved into a oneness of the highest magnitude. An adoration and love being announced not because of the Son’s mighty works and accomplishments, for He had done nothing of ministry at this point. But rather a powerful revelation of unmerited favor and acceptance, based on relationship alone.

What is seen for only a moment here is what has always been. What has always existed. This moment in time is but a snapshot, a still frame of quadtrillion moments experienced in eternity with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The voice and the Spirit’s dove-like descent all pointing the one of a kind nature of the Son, while simultaneously inviting everyone to such adoration, bliss and enjoyment of Divine union.

This supernatural occurrence was no surprise to Jesus. He was not alarmed. He was not even in awe.

In ecstasy, yes. The mystical union he enjoyed while on earth since His incarnation was being expressed. Being revealed. The voice from above and the visible manifestation of the Spirit, not for His benefit, but for those who were watching. With mouths agape beholding in wonder. Who is this man? How are these things possible?

John too is standing there with a wonderous stunned expression on his face. The confirmation he was seeking was now given to him. And the thunderous realization over-powered his mind and emotions: I have just baptized the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel!

The veil that was only there moments ago, was now completely removed as John instantly knew exactly in what way righteousness had been fulfilled. Jesus, who had no sin, and nothing to repent of, stepped from the crowd of sinners as God’s chosen representative, of God and of man. So on behalf of humanity, Jesus repented of everyone’s sin, guilt and shame. A righteousness, a right standing with God, that they would never be able to attain by themselves. And so God sent His perfect sinless Son to be baptized into a repentance of sins, vicariously on behalf of those who could not or would not repent of those sins on their own, thereby fulfilling all righteousness, reconciling God and humanity forever.

See the perfect human. Standing before God as he was always meant to stand. Unashamed, sinless, accepted, loved, filled with the Holy Spirit and in perfect unbroken union and communion with God as Father.

And also see yourself. Because everything described here is not only true of Jesus, but it is also now true of you. We are no longer standing on the shores of the Jordan staring from a great distance in confused wonder. We are no longer waiting our turn to be baptized into repentance of our sins, as though water could ever remove the nuclear-force power of sin that curses us all. We are no longer looking to receive instruction from the preacher of the law and of the prophets to clean up our act, or make ourselves right with God.

We are not looking at ourselves at all.

We are looking at the Son. And as we look to Him, and see who he truly is, God in the flesh, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…we can realize that we are included in Him. That this watery baptism was only foreshadowing a very real brutalizing death by crucifixion and glorious resurrection. By willingly going to the cross, Jesus single handedly took on sin, death, hell and the grave. Not only dying for us, as to take our place, but actually dying as us, meaning we died with Him.

This inclusion in His death was made possible by God Himself, a brilliant plot twist that totally surprised all of humanity and especially the devil himself. This inclusion in his death was the only way to break free from the eternal covenant established in the law of Moses, allowing a new covenant to be set with a new people, an entirely new humanity born in and from His resurrection.

So now we can revisit this miraculous moment of absolute affirmation, honor and celebration of Jesus by His Father and see ourselves. We can know that we are exactly right where we belong. Not on the shore. Not beside Jesus. But in Christ, forever affirmed, loved and empowered before ever lifting a finger in service of our King.

All of righteousness has been fulfilled. And we are the benefactors of a union made possible by nothing we have said or done, but by the perfect finished work of Jesus Christ Himself.

Bryan Finley

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