At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV
One of the things I love most about the book of Mark is that the writer cuts from scene to scene with a razor’s edge. So, Jesus simply appears in this account, as a full grown man entering into ministry at the edge of the Jordan River. We learn where he has come from, Nazareth in Galilee. From other Gospel’s we know about his history. His miraculous conception, the drama surrounding his parent’s marriage, his birth in Bethlehem, and his family’s flight to Egypt at the Angel’s warning. None of that is relayed by Mark. Here Jesus steps into the story of John the Baptizer as one of the multitudes who have come to hear the “voice calling in the wilderness.”
John’s baptism is one of confession and repentance to prepare the people for the One who is coming. When Jesus steps into the Jordan River it is not to repent for his own sin, but to join in the work that God is doing through John. To be identified and to affirm John’s ministry and step into the role he was born for. Jesus leaves behind the anonymity of his life in Nazareth, the simplicity of the carpenter shop and steps into public ministry. He enters into the river known to all as Mary and Joseph’s son, a simple carpenter.
As Jesus comes out of the water, we see a glimpse of His Glory. What John promised about the One who was to come, we witnesses as the water slides down his beard.
Heaven torn open-
As he came out of the water, Jesus saw the heavens torn open. The heart of a Holy God poured out his love in the person of Jesus Christ. He would make a way for eternal life, for all who would receive him and enter into the joy of the Father.
Sometimes, I read the headlines, hear of tragedies nearby, or face personal challenges, that cause me to wonder… does He care? I look into the faces on my television screen or across my dinner table and wonder in my heart why God seems so far away. I struggle to believe that the God of the Universe, the All Powerful King, cares because I can’t see Him moving. “If I were in charge…” these things would look different. It is here in this moment that Heaven is torn open, that I can rest in His action. God is not a far off spectator in the affairs of men, but in His Son, he takes action to restore, to reconcile, to make right.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death
The Spirit descending like a dove-
As the water drips from his hair and beard, the Holy Spirit of God descends in the form of a dove. The very symbol of purity, meekness, and gentleness. His ministry then, will be characterized by these things. Not of earthly power and strength, but a power that sets the captives free, heals the sick, and raises the dead. And eventually, a power that sacrifices His life for those who would reject Him. The Spirit of God anoints Jesus for ministry and reveals much about what this ministry will entail.
A voice from heaven-
Now, in the water of the Jordan River, all three members of the Trinity are revealed. The obedient Son stepping out into the ministry of reconciliation. The Spirit of God, empowering and anointing, and God the Father proclaiming His great love. No wonder the heavens were torn open.
God the Father, speaks words of love and life over Jesus as He begins his ministry. – –
Words of belonging, Jesus belongs to God the Father as His true Son.
Words of tenderness, Jesus is the dearly loved Son.
Words of joy, Jesus’ life brings pleasure and joy to the heart of the Father.
What strikes me about these words is that they are at the beginning. These are not earned words, temptation has yet to be faced, miracles are yet undone. Much teaching, preaching and conflict lay ahead. These are words of delight in who Jesus is. These are relationship words not merit words, even though Jesus would merit every one of them. We too, once we are born into the family of God, receive these relationship words.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! I John 1:3
Reflect– What made you think as you read this?
Receive– What touched your heart?
Respond– What will you do because you read this?