The Father Declares His Delight in His Son (Mark Sermon 2)
January 09, 2022 | Andy Davis
Exalting Christ, The Doctrine of the Trinity, Supremacy of Christ
The Spirit as a dove at Jesus' baptism shows Jesus' purpose, his power that came from God, proclaims that he's God's son, and that God has pleasure in him.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Amen. Turn your Bibles to Mark Chapter 1, looking this morning in our continued study in the life of Christ from Mark's gospel, Mark 1:9 through 11. And as we come to this text, we come to contemplate just three verses in Mark's gospel. The simple record of Jesus' water baptism, baptism in water. But as we do, we come to the deepest, the most sublime, the most infinitely consequential topic in theology. It's the greatest, most incomprehensible theme that we could ever consider. The topic is love, which of course is the best feature in all existence. But it's not just any love that we're contemplating this morning. We are contemplating the greatest and the highest love there is. And that is the love of Almighty God, God the Father, for his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. And I say to you that we can only begin in this life to comprehend this love, to contemplate it. We're actually going to spend all eternity drinking at this infinite fountainhead and God the Father loves God the Son, the father loves the son. You already knew that. But the dimensions of that love, you have only begun to probe. You've only begun to probe. And so have I, not to the one-millionth part have you begun to understand how great is the love the father has for the son.
"It's not just any love that we're contemplating... We are contemplating the greatest and the highest love there is. And that is the love of Almighty God, God the Father, for his only begotten son, Jesus Christ."
And as I was preparing the sermon and thinking about it even up until last night, late last night, I was thinking about the challenge in front of me, the challenge to elevate our thoughts on this topic from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the natural to the sublime. As I just said a moment ago, you already knew that the father loved his son, but you don't even begin to really comprehend how significant that is. So I was thinking and my mind was led to contemplate something I had read years ago written by C.S. Lewis. It's from his work Reflections on the Psalms. And in it, he was wrestling with why the Psalms and indeed the whole scripture is so filled with God at work in us trying to get us to praise him. It was a difficult topic for Lewis. It seems strange that God would so desire that we praise him. Why is this? Lewis found this problematic as though God had some kind of an ego problem and he needs us to come stroke his ego regularly because he's insecure in some sense and needs this constant stream of praise.
But as he was contemplating this, a breakthrough occurred in his thinking. This is what he wrote: "I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. The world rings with praise, lovers praising their beloved [like Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers praising their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game - praise of weather, of wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars… Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it [such as] "Isn't she lovely or wasn't it glorious or don't you think that magnificent. The Psalmists, in telling everyone to praise God, are doing what all men do when they speak of things they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us as regards the supremely valuable what we delight to do, indeed, we can't help doing about everything else that we value."
Well, what Lewis is expressing here is how the love of God for sinners like you and me has ultimately made manifest. God desires our greatest good. But what greater good is there in the universe than God himself? If, therefore, God is truly to love us, he must give us himself. Now, remember that Lewis said all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. Let me read some more of Lewis's writing on this. "I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete until it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not be able to tell anyone how good he is; Or to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then they have to keep quiet about it because the people with you care for it no more than they do a tin can in a ditch; Or to hear a good joke and have no one to share it with."
"God desires our greatest good. But what greater good is there in the universe than God himself? If, therefore, God is truly to love us, he must give us himself."
So, the insight Lewis came to about praising God is that it's absurd to think that what we always do with anything we really love, namely to praise it, we wouldn't do with what we love the most, God himself. Now it is reasonable for love to express itself, to speak itself and to praise the loved one, to involve as many others as we can in that love. Now here's my new insight about all this. I'd read this years ago, but my insight that I want to add to this scripture today is that God is like that, too. God's like that. God loves his son. Oh, how he loves him. And we're going to talk in this sermon about why God loves him so much. But this love existed from eternity past; before there even was a creature, before there was anything created, the father and the son had a love relationship. And after God created the universe, he loved his son. And once Jesus was born into the world, God loved his son. And so God just wants to express that love, first and foremost, to his son directly but then also to the whole world, to the whole world. And so, in Mark's gospel, we get the direct expression from the father to the son. Look at verse 11, "You are my son whom I love. With you, I am well pleased." But God also wants to express that to the whole world. He wants to bring the whole world into that love relationship. And so he also said at that amazing time in Matthew's gospel, Matthew 3:17. "This is my son whom I love; With him, I am well pleased."
I spent a lot of time working on that synoptic problem. Well, which was it? Did he say it to Jesus or did he say it to the onlookers? Well, I'm just going to go with both, being an inerrantist after all. And so he did both. Imagine a father saying to his son on the son's wedding day, just a private moment between the two of them. He looks him in the eye and he says, "I want you to know, I love you. And I'm so happy for you. Happy that today's your special day. I love you." And then at the wedding reception, him getting a microphone and saying to everyone there, "I want everyone to know, I want you all to know how much I love my son." My mind can expand to see that happening. So, I think both of those happened in Mark and in Matthew. He said it directly to Jesus, you are my son whom I love. With you, I am well pleased. But then he says it to the whole world. And when I say to the whole world, keep in mind, I'm speaking about the work of the Holy Spirit and letting us know about this. God is calling all the world to join him and his love for his son. He did it at that time. And then he had the Holy Spirit inspire the gospel of Matthew, and the gospel of Mark, and the gospel of Luke. And it happens that this whole exchange is recorded six times in the synoptic gospels, six times we have the same verbiage.
Do you get the sense that God wants the whole world to know that he loves his son and that he's well pleased with him? As Lewis said, “The world rings with praise.” People praising their lovers. People praising their favorite athletes, their favorite movies, their favorite books, their children, their friends, their heroes. But at the pinnacle of all of that hierarchy of lesser loves, way up at the top, comes this greatest love there is in the universe. The love of God the father for his only begotten son. It's the love that preceded them all. And God wants to include us all in that love. Remember how God said to Satan at the beginning of the Book of Job. He boasted, he said, "Have you considered my servant, Job? There's no one on earth like him. He's blameless and upright. A man who fears God and shuns evil." Well, friends, take that and multiply it by a billion times a billion and you have a fraction of the loving pride, if we could use that word, that the father has for his perfect son. “Have you considered my son, Jesus? I mean, there's no one like him. He's the one I love. And with him, I am well pleased.”
Now in all of this, of course, we have to somehow take our finite minds and wrap them around this infinitely deep topic of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity. We, Christians, believe in one God that has eternally existed in three persons, father, son, and spirit. Now were we, Christians, to teach that there were three gods, the world would really have no difficulty understanding that concept for many world religions have been polytheistic. Three separate gods interacting in certain ways. They're used to that kind of thing. But the clear revelation of the Bible, of the Old Testament, again and again, Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." Ten chapters are given in Isaiah 40 through 49. God's fierce jealousy over the syncretism and the polytheism of his people as they mixed worship of Yahweh together with other gods. And he's saying, "Absolutely not. I am God and there is no other. There is no one like me." A fierce monotheism. But the idea that there is one God that exists in three centers of personality or persons, et cetera, coequal coeternal is maybe the greatest mystery of our Christian faith. It could never have been derived by human deduction. Human science wouldn't have come up with this by experimentation. Human philosophy would not have come up with the Trinity. Had to be revealed by God himself. And so it was. And that revelation of the Trinity was most clearly displayed that the human race around the person of Jesus, understanding the deity of Christ of what that means that Jesus is the son of God or God the Son and then the Trinity flows out from that. So it centers on that.
And one of the clearest revelations of the concept of the Trinity is at the baptism of Jesus. If we had been there at the baptism of Jesus, we would've experienced this revelation. The person of Jesus at the center receiving water baptism from John the Baptist, heaven being torn open, the Holy Spirit descending as a dove on Jesus, and then a voice, a powerful voice coming from heaven, the voice of God, saying these words, "This is my son, whom I love; With him, I am well pleased." We would've experienced all that. And we would've gone home and had dinner and went to bed and not got it. We would've not have understood it. And if we became believers in Christ, we would have all eternity to try to figure it out, try to understand it. And that's the doctrine of the Trinity.
Now, all of that's a really lengthy preamble to the sermon. Now we'll get going with the sermon. But I want to walk through the water baptism. I want to walk through the significance of it, but I've already told you the most important ideas in this sermon, the central idea. But we need to walk through it. So let's understand. We're in the gospel of Mark. This is the second sermon now, the beginning of the gospel at verse one uses the word beginning: "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the son of God." So that's the theme. But we would understand that. This account is part of that explanation of what that means that he is the son of God.
Now essential to Jesus' mission is the concept of the kingdom of God. We'll understand that more as we go on in Mark's gospel, the kingdom of God. But Jesus is presented not only as the son of God, son of David and the king of the kingdom of God, the king of the kingdom of heaven. And before any king, you often have a royal herald. And a herald is a messenger. He goes ahead of the king, prepares the way for the king. We saw that last time; John the Baptist with the herald of the king and of the kingdom. And so, he came proclaiming a coming king and he's very plain, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was very plain in his role as a herald that a king is coming greater than him. "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the whole Holy Spirit,” Mark 1:7 and 8. So that's where we're at.
II. God’s Purpose in Jesus’ Baptism
Now today, Jesus himself is introduced and he's introduced at the time of his water baptism. Now what is God's purpose in Jesus' baptism? We need to understand that Jesus came to be baptized. Look at verse nine. "At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth and Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan." So, we had some physical locations here. We got Nazareth, Galilee. We got the Jordan, the Jordan River. So, we start with Nazareth and Galilee. Galilee was in the northern area of the nation of Israel. It was a despised region because there had been, through the exiles, some mixing together of Jew and Gentile, a lot of intermarriage perhaps. And so, the southern kingdom, Judah, Jerusalem, looked on the people from Galilee as somewhat mongrel - a mongrel people. Not exactly like the Samaritans but the area was despised, and Nazareth was just a small town in Galilee. So, you have Nathaniel in John Chapter 1 verse 46 saying, "Nazareth, can anything good come from there?" Now that's an overstatement, but that was the feeling, nothing good comes out of Galilee. It was a backwater. That's how they saw it.
Now the Jordan River is the main river in Israel. It connects the sea of Galilee with the Dead Sea. Dead Sea is the lowest place on the surface of earth, 1,300 feet below sea level, kind of an odd thing. And we don't know exactly where John the Baptist was doing his baptism, but he was baptizing probably at the southernmost area of the Jordan River near Jericho "…because there's much water…" there, it says in John 3. So, he's doing this baptism and lots of people were coming in. One day - and you imagine people standing in line and John baptizing them one at a time. And suddenly, there's Jesus just standing there in front of John to be baptized.
So we come to the relationship between these two men, John, John the Baptist, and Jesus. This is the only physical meeting there is between these two men in the Bible, the only time we have a record of that they actually met together. Now John must have learned from his godly parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, who this one was. There can be little doubt that in his upbringing that Zechariah and Elizabeth told him what was coming. That was essential to his mission. It seems that they're related by blood. John and Jesus seemed to have been cousins. Now the angel, Gabriel, told Mary that her child would be the son of God, son of God. And so when Mary went to visit Elizabeth, John leapt up in his mother's womb as soon as Mary's greeting came in Elizabeth's ears, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and called Mary the mother of my Lord.
So, all of that doctrine and that expectation was there in the household where John was raised. So, he must have understood that, but they grew up separately. They lived separate lives. They weren't together it seems because John says in the gospel of John Chapter 1, verse 33, he says, "I wouldn't have recognized him. I would not have known him except that the one who sent me to baptize told me that the one on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain as a dove is the one. I've seen and I testify that he is the son of God." John Chapter 1. But he says, "I wouldn't have known him any other way..." So, there he is, he looks up and he sees him.
Now John's initial reaction, there's not a lot here in Mark's gospel. They're very simple account. But if you looked at Matthew Chapter 3 and you see the initial reaction, Matthew 3:14, it says, "John tried to deter him or stop him saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?'" And keep in mind, John's water baptism was a baptism of repentance in which people were coming and confessing their sins. And they're receiving this water cleansing a symbol of the washing of all of their sins being washed away by the waters of baptism. That was what's going on. And so, when John tried to stop Jesus from the water baptism, he says, "You don't need this. I don't deserve to untie your sandals. I don't deserve to carry your sandals." He had a sense of the sinlessness of Jesus. And so he was testifying to Jesus' sinlessness effectively. He's saying, "I need you to baptize me, and do you come to me?" Well, one thing you learn in the gospels and just in life, don't stop Jesus from doing anything he wants to do. And don't ever tell him something he said is wrong. All right. That just - don't do that - that's unbelief. And so however pious it was for John the Baptist to stop Jesus, still, it was wrongheaded. He didn't understand what was going on. He didn't understand why Jesus would submit to water baptism.
So, this brings us to the two purposes of Jesus' water baptism, God's purposes. All right. First of all, as he says in Matthew's gospel, to fulfill all righteousness. And secondly, as we are just seeing from understanding the significance of what's going on there, to present Jesus or to anoint him as king of the king in coming kingdom of heaven. Those are the two reasons why he did this water baptism. Purpose number one is to fulfill all righteousness. Again, that's in Matthew 3:15: "Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now, it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.' Then John consented." Well, what does that mean, to fulfill all righteousness? Well, righteousness is that which lines up with God's righteous being, lines up with his justice, lines up with his word. Those are different concepts of righteousness. What is right? Its line ends up with what is right.
So, first of all, let's just keep it simple. It's right for Jesus to be baptized by John because God the Father wants it done. So, let's just keep it simple. When God tells you to do something, you do it. And that was Jesus' whole way of living. He was there because the father wanted him to be water baptized, but we have to go deeper than that. Ultimately, Jesus was on earth. He was incarnate to save us from our sins. As the angel said to Joseph, you'll give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. In order to save us from our sins, he had to immerse himself in our experience. He had to immerse himself in our sinfulness, though not being sinful himself.
In order to save us, to make us righteous, to fulfill righteousness on our behalf, he had to identify with us as a sinner to be our substitute. As it says in Isaiah 53:12, "He was numbered with the transgressors." What does that mean to be numbered with the transgressors? It means to be counted among them, to be seen to be a transgressor. And as Isaiah said in Isaiah 53:5 and 6, this is the ultimate reason why: "He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him. And by his wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." It's what it means to be numbered with the transgressors and is by that atoning sacrifice that he would save us and make us righteous. So, baptism, the word literally means immerse or immersion, to immerse. And so, by being baptized by John, Jesus was immersing himself in our sin, effectively, swimming in it, immersing himself in it. And this is a symbol of the final substitutionary atoning work he would do. All of our sins would be laid on him and he would bear them. He would become sin for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." So, his baptism of us in the spirit is to immerse us in the Holy Spirit and to immerse us in his purity and his righteousness. That's what's going on in this water baptism. In John's gospel, John the Baptist proclaims us about Jesus in John 1:29. "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Only by his immersion in our sin could he do that. And so that baptism was a picture of it.
All right, the second reason why Jesus was water baptized and why this whole occasion occurred is so that God could anoint and present Jesus as king, to anoint him and to present him as king. Now we need to understand the history of anointing and the kingship in Israel. Some commentators have likened Jesus' baptism to a coronation ceremony because of the role of the Holy Spirit. Remember that in Israel's history, kings were identified and established as kings by the ritual of anointing. And that would involve a prophet taking a horn of oil and pouring it on the head of the anointed one to identify him as the Lord's anointed. The word Messiah or Christ means anointed one, the one identified as the king.
Now the pouring of oil symbolizes the coming of the Holy Spirit on the man, to equip him and empower him to be a good king, to come upon him and enable him to rule wisely. So, you remember the first anointing we have of a king was Samuel on Saul. So, in 1 Samuel 10:1, Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him saying, "Has not the Lord anointed you as leader over his inheritance?" And then he says, Samuel prophesied these words. He said, "The spirit of the Lord will come upon you, Saul, in power, and you'll prophesy with them and you will be changed into a different person. And once these signs are fulfilled, then do whatever your hand finds to do for God is with you." So, at his baptism, Jesus was anointed by God and by the Holy Spirit to empower him and to present him as king of the world.
"So, at his baptism, Jesus was anointed by God and by the Holy Spirit to empower him and to present him as king of the world."
III. God’s Power on Jesus
And so, we see God's power coming on Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And we see this through the dissent of the Spirit as a dove. First of all, the text says that heaven was torn open. What a violent image that is, the tearing of heaven. It's interesting, in Mark 1:10, it's written from Jesus' perspective. Look at verse 10, "As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove." So, Mark is written from the perspective of Jesus, what Jesus saw, and the experience he had focused on that. The gospel of Matthew presents it more of an audience form as we're watching. So, if you'd been there, you would've seen this, the heavens were torn open.
Now, what does that mean? Well, we talked about this, remember, when I was preaching through the Book of Job and Behemoth and Leviathan and all that, that there is surrounding us, at every moment, an invisible spiritual realm. And there seems to be a barrier, a membrane, a wall, something between us and that invisible spiritual world. We operate in this five-sense world, the world of science, the world of observation, this physical world all the time, but there are the spiritual realms, the heavenly realms. And there is this wall or barrier. And at Jesus' baptism, it was torn. There was a tear in it. Now, this reminds me of another scripture, Isaiah 64:1 and 2. And there, the prophet filled with a holy zeal for God, a zeal for God's glory. Isaiah says, Isaiah 64:1, "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that mountains would tremble before you. As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down and make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you." Well, what does Isaiah want? He wants war. He wants wrath. He wants God's justice and judgment coming down out of that rend in the heavens. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down and make water boil.
But instead of this, the heavens are rent and out comes a dove. A dove. And it comes down. This gentle white bird comes down as a dove. The Holy Spirit comes as a dove perhaps in the form of a dove. Now dove is extremely peaceful, gentle. We remember at the end of the flood how Noah sent out a dove and it returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf. And the dove with the olive leaf in its mouth is a symbol of peace, an end of hostility, an end of judgment. That's what you have, the Holy Spirit. And since as we said in John's gospel, Jesus is proclaimed as the Lamb of God. You've got a dove coming on a lamb. That's not water boiling and mountain shaking. That's gentleness, tenderness and kindness.
As John 3:17 says, "For God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." And he comes to save us through his kindness and through his gentleness. He is meek and lowly of heart and gracious and tender towards sinners. As it says in Ephesians 2:7, "…in the coming ages, he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." That's how he comes, the gentle spirit on a gentle lamb, saving you in kindness. Also, Titus 3:4 and 5, "when the kindness and love of God our savior appeared, he saved us." We've got this picture of kindness and generalness, but also with this comes the empowering of Jesus for ministry. He's empowered by the spirit to do the ministry he's about to start.
Now in Saul's case, 1 Samuel 10, Samuel tells him that the pouring out of the spirit would change him into a different man. He would have a changed nature. He would start to act better. He was the guy looking for his dad's donkeys, remember. And he was hiding among the baggage. That was King Saul. But then when the spirit came on him, he was changed into a different man and became more king like, at least for a while. But in Jesus' case, the spirit didn't change him at all. His character was perfect already. He was ready to be king. No transformation at all. The spirit doesn't come down on Jesus to transform him into a different man, a better man, a more kingly man. He's ready already.
But what did the spirit come to do? Well, he came to empower him to do the ministry, to empower Jesus to do his ministry. Acts 10:38 says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. And he went around doing good and healing all who are under the power of the devil because God was with him." Jesus himself said his exorcisms - and we're about to get into that, lots of exorcisms in Mark's gospel - but he says his exorcisms were done by the power of the spirit of God. Matthew 12:28, "If I drive out demons by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. I do my miracles by the spirit of God." Now about three or four months ago, I had a new thought. It was powerful new thought. Very deep. I already knew that Jesus openly said, consistently said, concerning his vertical relationship with his father, "I do nothing except what the father has told me to do. I don't say anything except the words the father has given me to say." A very strong dependence on the father for everything. I think that's part of his morning quiet time. He would go and God would open his ear to listen, like one being taught. And he would tell him what to say and what to do, father to son. I get that. So, Jesus did nothing apart from the father's will. But here's the new thought. Jesus also did nothing apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing. Now this will fry your noodle. Could Jesus do miracles without the Holy Spirit? Go home and ponder that one. Well, of course, he can, he's God. Well, you could just as well say, "Could Jesus do any work apart from the will of his father?" Well, you, right away, is going to say, "No, he wouldn't do that." Well, I'm telling you, he doesn't do anything. He doesn't preach a sermon apart from the Spirit's power. He doesn't roll open the Isaiah scroll and preach, except that the Spirit is upon him, anointing him with power. He doesn't interact with a single person one on one, Nicodemus, apart from the power of the Spirit. He doesn't heal anyone apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. That was what the Spirit came to do to empower Jesus for his kingly ministry.
IV. God’s Proclamation of Jesus
And along with this comes God's proclamation of Jesus as king, going to proclaim him as king. Two aspects of the king's coronation is anointing and announcing, anointing and announcing. Now, this was essential to the kings taking power in Israel. So for example, King Solomon. 1 Kings 1:39, "Zadok, the priest, took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, 'Long live, King Solomon.'" Same thing with Jehu; 2 Kings 9:6, "The prophet poured oil on Jehu's head and declared, 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says, I anoint you king over the Lord's people Israel.'" It's an announcement. And a few verses later, “[the people] hurry, took their cloaks, spread them under him on the bare steps. And then they blew the trumpet and shouted, 'Jehu is king.'" Or Joash; in the time of the wicked woman Athaliah, the solitary descendant from the lineage of David was kept alive miraculously, amazingly, and then was rolled out as king when he was a boy. The priest, Jehoiada, "…brought out the king's son and put the crown on him and presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. And they anointed him and the people clapped their hands and shouted, 'Long live, the king.'" A couple verses later, "The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets."
So that's what they do. They have like an announcement ceremony and a trumpet thing, and maybe some cloak thing, and that's the rolling out of the king. I'm telling you, this was better. Don't you think Jesus is better? The announcement ceremony is better. No other king in the history of Israel was announced by Almighty God with his own voice from heaven. And he announces a son. A voice came from heaven, you are my son. Now again, in Mark's gospel, he's saying it to Jesus. Don't you find that interesting? He says it to Jesus, "You are my son. With you, I am well pleased." This is infinite mystery. What did Jesus know? And when did he know it? Big question. We know that when he's little baby and he's wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, he didn't know anything. You guys know that, don't you? He didn't know anything. He didn't talk to Mary about scripture at that point. Okay. It's like, Mary, did you know? It's like, what did Jesus know? He didn't know anything. He was wrapped in a swaddling cloth. All right.
But he grew and developed. And it says in Luke 2:52, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." So, Jesus learned things. Now that'll fry your noodle, too. How does an omniscient being learn something? Huh, I don't know. But there's Jesus who is Almighty God and he's also learning things and growing. And we know that we have one little checkpoint along the way at age 12, remember, they go up for one of the feasts, Joseph and Mary, and somehow, they left Jesus behind in the big city. I've often wondered about that, that the angel, Gabriel, could circle back with them and say, "Look, you had one job to do, watch Jesus. And you lost him in the city." But I know that this can happen when you're in a loving community, when you're in a group of 20 families and you thought that he was with and he wasn't there.
So, they went back and they're searching everywhere for him. And Mary's distraught. And they find him at the temple and all the priests are listening. And they can't believe the depth of knowledge of Jesus. And they're anxious. And so Mary reproves him, she says, "We're looking for you everywhere." And he says, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my father's house?" So, he knew at age 12 that God was his father. But here at his baptism, God the Father is saying it directly to him, "You are my son whom I love. With you, I am well pleased." He's feeding him his love, feeding him how wonderful you are and how much I love you. But ultimately, as I said, this announcement is for the whole world. So here we are, at this time, with this sermon and you're contemplating these words, it was for us, too.
V. God’s Pleasure in Jesus
And so in Matthews' gospel, it's "This is my son whom I love. With him, I am well pleased." And he'll be in Mark's gospel too on the Mount of Transfiguration saying to Peter James and John, "This is my son whom I love, listen to him." So that's the announcement. And now we have God's pleasure in Jesus. And this is where we started. You are my son whom I love. With you, I am well pleased. The father is delighted in the son. He delights in him in every respect.
John 1:18 says that the son "…is in the bosom of the father." What does that mean? He's in his father's heart. He's at the core of his being. His affection for his son is immeasurable. John 3:35 says "The father loves the son and has placed everything in his hands." Consider that. Wow, the father loves the son and places the universe in his hands. The father's delight in Jesus is because he is the perfect reflection of himself. Says in Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God." Colossians 1:19, God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell on him. Hebrews 1:3 says he "is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." So, God knows better than we do. There's nothing in all the universe that's more glorious and more awesome and wonderful than God himself. God would be an idolater if he honored any creature, any created thing, higher than himself. Therefore, God esteems his son as the radiance of his own glory, the exact representation of his own being higher than anything else in the universe.
Therefore, friends, we would not say that God's love, the father's love for the son, is unconditional. We use that language for ourselves, that God has an unconditional love for us. The father does not love the son in spite of who he is and in spite of what he does. That's us. That's us. No, he loves the son because of who he is and because of what he does. Clear scripture on this. He loves that he is the radiance of his own glory and the exact representation of his being. In Hebrews 1:9, he says of the son, "You have love righteousness and hated wickedness." Therefore, God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. In other words, when the father studies Jesus' mind and heart, he realizes he perfectly loves righteousness and perfectly hates wickedness as God himself does.
Secondly, what he's done and what he has done is to do everything that's constantly pleasing to the father. And whatever the father's doing, the son also does, "For the father loves the son and shows him all that he himself is doing," John 5:20. Now, this started with the creation of the world. Before the world began, the father loved the son. And then in the will of God, they created the universe together. It says in John 1:3, through him, all things were made. And without him, nothing was made that has been made. What an amazing picture of a father-son work project. I mean, picture that in your mind. I want you to picture in your mind, the teenage Jesus, he's 18 years old. He's in Joseph's carpentry workshop. Says plainly in Matthew's gospel, isn't this the son of the carpenter? So, Joseph was a carpenter, but it says in Mark's gospel, isn't this the carpenter? So, Jesus himself was a carpenter. So that means he probably had an apprentice period. So, he's learning how to make furniture. Imagine teaching Jesus how to make furniture. But there, the father and the son, or maybe he's 18 years old, and they're working on a table and chair set. I had to look it up. They did have chairs back then. But I just want to be sure. So, they were making chairs. And maybe there's a specific design of the legs that Joseph had developed. And Jesus learned that and made them and he copied it exactly, did a great job. And imagine as they're working, the father's working on the table, the son's working on the chairs and they're just humming and happy together. I don't think it's wrong to think in this physical way. Only take that and lift it up to infinity and think of the father and the son making everything in the universe that way. The father making the universe through the son, every star, the earth itself.
As it says in Hebrews 1:10, in the beginning, "O Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens of the work of your hands." That's the father saying that to the son, "Son, you laid the earth's foundation." They did it together. There was nothing that was made by the father that wasn't made through the son. They worked on everything together. Every tree. They made the ostrich together. Isn't that cool? Think about that. Hey, let's make an ostrich. And the father and the son working together on the ostrich with the big egg, remember that whole thing. Anyway. So he loves him because of who he is and also what he has done and that extended on into his earthly life. In John 8:29, Jesus said, "The one who sent me is with me, has not left me alone for I always do what pleases him." Ponder those words. I always do what pleases my father.
Wouldn't you love to be able to say that? Wouldn't you love to be able to go to bed tonight and say, Today, for one day, everything I did please God." I would love just one day like that. You're like, "Pastor, I've had a lot of days like that." And it's like, no, you haven't. Anyway. But you think you have. But you haven't had one. Jesus had nothing but those days. I always do what pleases him. From the moment he was born until he was presented in public ministry at age 30, he never sinned. Every moment, he did what was pleasing to the father. Every moment. And then that perfect obedience would extend even to death on the cross. Listen to these words, John 10:17 and 18; "The reason my father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again. I have the power to lay it down. I have the power to take it up again. This command, I receive from my father." Go back to the beginning of the statement. The reason my father loves me is I obey him perfectly even to the point of death in the cross. That's why he was pleased.
Now our salvation, we are invited into that love relationship. By justification, by faith, we are united with Jesus, spiritually united. And we're seen to be as righteous as Jesus. We're seen to be as pleasing to the father as Jesus. We're seen to be as obedient as Jesus. That's what justification is. We're united with him. If anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. And Jesus invites us into the intensity of that love relationship. John 15:9 says this, now listen to these words, "As the father has loved me, even so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." Think about those words. As the father has loved me, even so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. So, at salvation, God is inviting sinners like you and me who have violated his laws, who are filthy and wickedness, to come in through the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit into a perfect love relationship that existed before the world began between the father and the son. He's inviting you into that. As Paul prays in Ephesians 3, "…that you have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." I get the infinite dimensions of the universe. This love, to know this love, that surpasses knowledge that you would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. God is saying, "I love my son this much. And I'm inviting you into that love relationship."
"Now our salvation, we are invited into that love relationship. By justification, by faith, we are united with Jesus, spiritually united. And we're seen to be as righteous as Jesus. "
So central application, one main application I want to start with. Not so much you should love but you are loved. Not so much you should love but you are loved. I don't know what you're going through. I don't know what's happening in your lives, but we all struggle with this. We all struggle. Am I loved? Does anyone really love me? Is there really any love in my life? What's going on? You are because you have been invited into an intense, perfect love relationship as the father has loved me, even so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
Now, of course, that's going to flow out to others around you. It's going to. As John says, "We love because he first loved us." It's going to flow out horizontally, but it starts with this. Not so much we ought to love but we are loved. So meditate on this, meditate on the dimensions of the father's love for the son, and meditate on the end of the story here. It's an interesting short little book, gospel of Mark, because here the father is saying, "I love my son." At the end of the story, he kills him, slaughters him on the cross, killed him. How do we possibly begin to understand that? Well, we understand it this way. Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" This love never dimmed. It never diminished. But his love for us flowed in that he was willing to give this son who he loved, with whom he was well pleased, to pour him out under death so that we might be forgiven of our sins. That's the love of God for us.
Close with me in prayer. Father, it is a challenge for us in the midst of our lives to get up out of our ordinary circumstances and be able to contemplate concepts like this. Father, I pray that you would take the gospel message that we've heard today and press it into our hearts, that we would understand the love of God for the son. And that we would understand that by faith, we can come into that love relationship and experience it for ourselves. Father, I pray that if there are any that are here that are not yet converted, that they would hear and believe and repenting of their sins would trust in Christ. His atoning worked for full forgiveness and to be drawn into a love, the dimensions of which we can only begin to comprehend in this life in Jesus' name. Amen.