Today we are going to focus on one little sentence spoken by God. That little sentence though is not a footnote, not an afterthought nor is it ambiguous. Instead those few words say a lot and carry with them the keys to the peace that passes understanding.
I am going to quote from the 4 gospels first and while the passages basically say the same thing, they redundancy is important also.
Matthew 3: 13 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Mark 1: 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
Luke 3: 21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
These three passages are all taken from the NASB version and the one following is taken from the NIV
John 1: 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.
Now I am an academic and I know what other academic and biblical scholars do. They will take the minute differences in those passages and write books upon their theological or scholastic significance. While they are writing detailed analysis on the differences between the use of the word ‘this is’ and ‘you are’, ‘whom’ and ‘you’ they, for the most part, miss the important lessons of these passages.
The general rule of academics and being a scholar is that the person writing the paper on a given passage of scripture must come up with something new to say to contribute to the discussion. The truth is not the goal for most academics and scholars, the discussion is.
The reason for that is when the truth is discovered, the discussion ends, and when the discussion ends so does the fun for the scholar. They can no longer discuss the subject. For the believer, it is not the discussion that is vital but that the discussion gets to the truth. The truth is the objective for the true believer not an endless round of debate on a given biblical topic.
What is the truth of these passages? What makes those sentences so valuable?
First, the bible tells us that if a man speaks of his own testimony, that testimony is not true. If Jesus had only had his own claims to being the Son of God then that testimony could be deemed untrue. We have had many throughout the ages claim that they are the Son of God, yet that claim only comes from those speakers. They have no outside divine verification to confirm those declarations of divinity.
Now one can point to the followers of those self-proclaimed sons of God and say that they verify those claims. There are two points that answer that observation. First, the followers are not divinely inspired witnesses and second, they make the claim because they believe the declarations made by their leader. They do not believe because some divine witness or voice confirmed the claims made by their cult leader.
Jesus had a voice from heaven and the testimony of the one sent by God to be his herald. They were outside divine voices and divinely inspired voices confirming Jesus claim to be the son of God. We know that Jesus claimed to be divine before his baptism as we read in Luke 2:49 the following words:
Lk 2:49. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Everyone knew of those claims and now those claims have been verified by God himself and God’s special messenger.
Second, these words are important because they set Jesus apart. Part of being an academic means that one gets to study different alternative religions and their leaders’ rise to ‘power’ and as we study those false religions we find that not one of them had this public divine confirmation of their claims.
Allah spoke to Mohammad privately; the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith privately, then disappeared back into heaven with the supposed golden plates. No alternative religious leader has had any sort of public divine verification for their spiritual leadership.
They do not have the outside verification needed to support their claims as being messengers from God, prophets of God or even the next son of God. From ancient times to now there has been only one religious leader who has had such support and that is Jesus.
Third, without this divine public verification we could question everything Jesus taught and dismiss his words because he would just be the next human in a long line of humans making such claims. We would suspect his words and question if they really were words from God. In other words doubt would be cast upon everything Jesus taught and did.
We would wonder when and where God’s word to us would appear. The confirmation given by these two divine witnesses removes such doubt and communicates to us that Jesus is bringing God’s word and that we should listen to them very carefully.
Also, the Jewish people knew and were taught that their scriptures were directly passed from God himself to his chosen people through men like Moses and God’s prophets. They knew they had God’s instructions and it was taught to them from generation to generation.
The Jewish people needed to see that Jesus had the same connection, the same communication with God the same approval that their forefathers had taught them Moses and the other OT writers possessed. That divine connection needed to be established for Jesus to be effective, and for the people to know that he is from God, the Messiah.
Fourth, this public and very divine confirmation tells us that everything recorded in the Gospels about Jesus and what he said is true, pleasing to God and of him. They are not the subjective words of a human but they have received God’s seal of approval. We can trust what Jesus said in the gospels and because Jesus taught the disciples, who either wrote the books of the NT or his disciples taught those who wrote some of the other NT books we know that those books are true, correct and their content is pleasing to God.
We do not have to doubt about the Bible and wonder if it is true or not, we know it is true. We do not have to search the religious writings or talk to adherents of other alternative religions to find the truth, we know we have the truth because the Bible
This is where the key to the peace that passes understanding come sin. Because we know we have the truth in the Bible we do not have to worry that we are following a false god or members of a cult. We do not have to worry about how to please God because we know we have his instructions on how to do that; we do not have to worry about ISIS or some other radical group, crime or any other sin or sinner because we have the hope that we have eternal life.
This is why those words, ‘this is my beloved son…’ are so important. They confirm to us of the validity of the content of the NT and we know we have the words of God. We know how to please God, how to obey him and on it goes.
We know Jesus is from God and his every word found his father’s stamp of approval.