March 10, 2016
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
So here’s another moment for the highlight reel. At seemingly every moment where the Son of God humbles himself, the Father exalts him. He enters into the world through a genealogy laden with anomalies if not anathemas yet he is declared the son of Abraham and the son of David. He lays aside his royalty and he is recognized as a king at his birth. He shows up at the Jordan River and submits to John’s baptism of repentance and he is heralded by the Father as the beloved son in whom he was well pleased. He descends into the water as though to shed any status the world might place on him and the Spirit descends with the reassurance of Divine anointing. He has yet to speak a word or do anything in public ministry and he is given the affirmation of beloved sonship.
What can we learn from this? At every moment the sons and daughters of God humble themselves, the Father exalts them. Divine power responds directly to humble people and comes in the form of holy love. To the extent that a person can be emptied of self they can be filled with the Holy Spirit. To the extent that a person can humble themselves before God, they can be exalted by God. To the extent a person can embrace their own weakness, they can be filled with divine strength. Jesus shows us the pattern by which human beings were made to live; humility precedes exaltation, self surrender precedes Spirit filling, the embrace of human weakness precedes the infusion of divine strength.
To the extent we try to merit the favor of God we will be unable to perceive it. To the extent we attempt to become something we are not, which was the original sin (trying to be like God), we forfeit the gift of who we most truly are. To the extent we build our lives on any other foundation than the gift of our own belovedness before God, we build on sinking sands.
This is the challenge of grace. It’s really hard, because to accept the gift that comes with baptism means we must accept that we are just like everybody else. We are no better or worse. This is the baptism Jesus entered into, becoming just like us so we could become just like him.
1. What are the sources from which you draw your sense of identity and self worth?
2. Have you accepted your total worth as a human being based on God’s acceptance and affirmation of you as a beloved son or daughter—preceding any performance or lack thereof on your part?
3. Why do we gravitate towards a performance based system of worth and personal identity? What would it mean to leave that approach behind? What would come in its place?
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.