When preparing this message I debated mainly between 2 different topics. The first topic was centered around historical proof that refuted the idea that people wrote about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection several decades after it happened and thus is inherently flawed due to people’s tendencies to add to the story over time. If something like that interests you as it does me, well it gives you a reason to come back as I am a firm believer that Christians should be able to defend their faith, but that isn’t what we are going to discuss this morning.
This morning I think it appropriate to wade in the waters with Jesus off the shores of Al-Maghtas (Al-Machtas) and into the Jordan river. Jesus’ baptism is understandably an odd place to start when discussing Easter because usually we discuss the cross, the tomb, the women who ran to the tomb and the men who didn’t believe them. We talk about the resurrection and what that means, but I believe that in order to understand the end of Jesus’ physical ministry on Earth we must understand a key component before Jesus’ ministry began.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
We aren’t going to spend time discussing the importance of water baptism, although I believe it’s of high importance and every Christ follower should prayerfully consider doing it, it’s not essential for salvation. I do however, want to explain this: Baptism by emersion signifies the same ideas in the spiritual realm as a bath does in the physical realm. It’s a cleansing of ones’ soul.
For our topic this morning I want to dial into verse 16-17
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
I have heard it said that the reason God says this is because it’s Jesus- he is part of God. He is God’s son so it would be appropriate for him to be pleased in his child, but
He was in the beginning with God.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
If we receive Jesus the bible tells us we receive God who sent Him. If we recieve God we become grafted- or adopted-into the family.
Now for those of you who now my family know we have an adopted son. Yes, he knows he is adopted and I’m not telling which one. When we explained his adoption to him he got a little sad that he wasn’t born in Mommies belly. This came about because my beautiful bridge was pregnant with, I believe Tori, at that time and like an inquisitive child he wanted to know where he came from-instead of lying we told him a very simplistic version that his little developing mind could understand. At the end of our discussion, my wife sensing a little disappointment in her child to him that he was special. She went onto explain that yes his brothers and sister were crafted in mommies belly, however, he was hand chosen, picked specifically by God to be apart of our family. Me in my craftiness, and understand my kids know my personality, I stated yes we chose you, but got stuck with your siblings. He giggled and and went away happy knowing that he was chosen and loved by his parents. Not one child in my family is different than or better than another no matter how they happened to become a part of it; whether through a legal system, or a birth canal.
The same is true with our relationship with God. If we receive Christ we are his children. It doesn’t matter if we were a planned birth or not. It doesn’t matter if our past took more twists and turns on the road to salvation that Jesus’ did. He, once we receive Him, are adopted and obtain full family privileges in God.
Now that being said I want to point out the timing in which God declares His pleasure in His Son. I want to point out that God was pleased with Jesus before Jesus’ ministry ever began.
Here’s the importance:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
You see the bible states that God desires none to perish, but all to have ever lasting life—The choice lies with us to accept or reject God. We are all predestined, or pre-made to be in the family, some have accepted and some have rejected, but all were chosen before we had a chance to sin or do great miracles on Earth for God.
Some people state that it’s easy for Jesus to please God because Jesus was perfect, but God declared his love and pleasure in him before he was tempted by Satan AND before he started his ministry.
What’s this mean-God knows the choices we made and the ones we are going to make and he decides to love us anyway.
This is the beauty of the cross because when we say yes to God we stand in the same place Jesus stood. Sinless and yet to preform.
Well someone here might say: Well that’s fine, but I already sinned and you don’t know the depths in which I messed up. You don’t know the failures I had—you’re right I don’t, but upon receiving Christ neither does God.
Wait-God doesn’t forget?
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
In Christianese we call this justification—Just- as- is-I-never-sinned.
This is the story of the cross—the reason Christians get all obnoxious and over declare that easter isn’t about a bunny it’s about a Savior.
Because God chose not only to clean your slate, but to go as far as to purposefully put your past out of his mind so you both can embrace your future, be adopted, and walk in the purpose and plan He has for your life.
What’s this mean:
For those of us who recieved already— keep on in the faith.
For those who hadn’t recieved we are going to give you a chance to wipe your slate.
For those who received in the past and journeyed away- the good news is God never stopped loving you; you’re always welcome back to the family.
Before you leave I wanted to give each of you an Easter Present. Our ushers in the back will hand you an eraser when you leave. Put it somewhere to remind yourself—you’re always one prayer away from momentary perfection.