And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10-11
Mark does not tell us exactly where John was located while he was baptizing, except that he baptized in the waters of the Jordan River. Many people went out into the wilderness to hear John preach his message of repentance and to be baptized by him. This ritual washing was their means of declaring their turning from sinful behavior in order to live a more godly life. When Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John, he had no need to repent. Jesus did so to “fulfill all righteousness” and to completely identify himself with those whom he came to save. As he came up out of the water, Jesus heard the voice of his Father; “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
How many children long to hear such words from their father? These words of love and acceptance are words each child craves, yet many never hear such words from their father’s lips or feel the warmth of their father’s embrace. Many others grow up living with the absence of their father. Yes, some fathers turn from family responsibilities, but for so many children, love isn’t so plainly expressed simply because fathers are apprehensive to show their compassionate side. All too often, fathers feel they must be seen as strong and unwavering. Indeed, I will say the reality is that it takes even more strength to overcome such stigma and show the tenderness of a father’s love.
For so many people, the world seems a lonely place, one in which there is little love shown toward others. As we make our way through the trials and pitfalls of earthly life, we do so searching for love. Especially when times are difficult and it seems the world is against us, we long to hear the words Jesus heard from his Father; “You are my beloved [child].” For the baptized, this is a reality that cannot be overlooked.
Through his Son Jesus Christ, God has demonstrated the lengths he will go to save his people, rescuing them from the powers of sin and death. There is no other love that is greater than the love of the Father in heaven. There is no greater value than that the Father places upon his children, those whom he has claimed in baptism to be his own forever.
God desires to have a relationship with all people; he desires to save all people from their sin. As we hear the message of the gospel, the Holy Spirit moves us toward the waters of Holy Baptism. Through the waters connected to God’s Word and promise, our heavenly Father reaches out to us and holds us in his loving embrace. As we emerge from the waters of the baptismal flood, we are greeted with the very words God spoke to Jesus, “You are my beloved [child].” Living in the bonds of the Father’s love, the baptized enjoy a relationship like no other. It is the forever assurance that no matter what happens in this temporary world, the Father, whose kingdom has no end, will love us and cherish us forever.