21When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened 22and 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, NIV)
What a spectacle the baptism of Jesus must have been! Before Jesus showed up, John the Baptist drew the crowds with his prophetic preaching and dramatic baptisms. But when Jesus appeared one day to be baptized, several astounding things happened. First of all, the heavens opened. (Perhaps like the wormhole above New York in the first Avengers film.) Then the Holy Spirit descended from heaven “in bodily form like a dove.” (I would have love to have seen that!) Finally, a voice from heaven, God’s own voice, said, “You are My Son, the Beloved; with You I am well pleased” (v. 22).
What was that experience like for Jesus? Surely, He knew, from His parents, about His unique birth and calling. They must have told Jesus what they had learned from the angel. The Bible doesn’t describe how Jesus experienced His Heavenly Father throughout His life, though we rightly suppose that this was a deeply intimate relationship. But, as far as we know, it was at His baptism that Jesus heard for the first time the words, “You are My Son, the Beloved; with You I am well pleased.” Did Jesus feel surprised? Affirmed? Overwhelmed? Special? Deeply loved? All of the above and much more?
I have no doubt that my own father loved me and was pleased with me. But he had a very difficult time expressing his love in words. I don’t remember my father ever saying the words, “I love you” to me. I know my dad was proud of me. But he rarely said it. The words “With you I am well pleased” may not have come from his mouth, though I know they were in his heart.
Perhaps, like me, when you read Luke’s account of Jesus’s baptism, you find in yourself a deep yearning for affirmation from your father. I won’t be able to get that in this life from my dad because he’s been with the Lord for almost 17 years. But I also realize that what I want most of all is to know that my Heavenly Father is pleased with me. I want to know that I am His beloved. Of course I realize that the Father’s love for Jesus was unique. But we also know that, through Jesus the Son of God, the Father loves us (John 14:21-23; John 16:27; 1 John 3:1). I need this knowledge to flow down from my head to my heart (Romans 5:5).
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind a voice from heaven affirming the Father’s love for me from time to time. Perhaps you feel similarly. But, whether or not that ever happens, we hold on tight to the Good News of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. We believe that the God who knows us through and through has adopted us to be His beloved children (Ephesians 1:5). We claim the promise of Psalm 149:4, affirming that “the LORD takes pleasure in His people,” and, through Christ, that includes you and me.
So, though you may not hear a heavenly voice today as Jesus did when He was baptized, the Good News still rings strong and clear. Through Jesus, the beloved Son, you are God’s daughter or son. God loves you more than you will ever fully comprehend. God delights in you and claims you as His own.
Reflect on the ways you have experienced God’s love. Spend a few moments reflecting and letting this truth sink in: God is well pleased in you. May you daily experience God’s love and pleasure for you in a deeper way.