“DECLARATION OF APPROVAL AND DELIGHT”
Luke 3:22 “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”
This Luke 3 baptism passage gives us a glimpse into the true richness of the Father’s love for His beloved Son. As Jesus arises from the water, he audibly hears these striking words of affirmation: “You are my son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased” (vs.22). This phrase is spring-loaded with implications and applications. Notice the following:
FIRST, the most obvious is the eternal loving relationship of the Father and Son, and how they interact with one another in unity to accomplish their eternal purposes for the universe, the created order, and even mankind’s redemption. Certainly one of the purposes of this declaration of approval was to motivate and stimulate our Lord to faithful perseverance, as he was propelled directly into his forty days of testing in the desert immediately afterwards.
Imagine the loneliness and disconnection he might have felt otherwise without the timely reminder of that deep Fatherly love.
Can it be any accident that these very same words are spoken to Jesus up at the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17:5, etc, also 2Pet 1:17) at the tail end of his public ministry, right before his final journey towards the cross?
SECOND, implicit in these words of affirmation are ramifications for we who are “in Christ” (2 Cor 5) as well. Due to the application of the work of our Lord Jesus on our behalf (on the cross), we too become the recipients of the extensiveness of this adoring love and delight of God. In a sense, indeed all mankind, due to common grace, are loved. But those “in Christ” do experience the new life in all its fullness which includes the application of this Fatherly love towards his adopted sons/daughters; you and me.
THIRD, less noticeable, and quite surprising, is the timing of God’s declaration of approval here in these gospel baptism narratives. What is shocking, then, is not the CONTENT of The Father’s words but rather the TIMING.
Consider this: When the Father broke open the sky and pronounced to the universe (in our hearing) those words of approval and delight, Jesus had not even begun his public ministry. No public miracles or healings yet. Nope, Jesus hadn’t even begun his public ministry. Let’s permit this thought to sink in deeply!
The ramifications of this concept to our understanding of God’s grace as well as to our relationship and position “in Christ” are really enormous:
Unfortunately, our fallen human nature does not comprehend this on our own. People across time have become very used to trying to earn other people’s approval and respect, and we therefore erroneously superimpose that view onto God. Subsequently, so much of religion throughout all millennia, across all continents and cultures, and deeply embedded into the flawed human heart is a false notion that we can only get God’s approval and love by our good works; our behavior as well as our religious traditions and rituals. But this is not accurate at all, and we can see why here in this passage.
The timing of the words of delight and approval come before the works have even begun. Wow!
How amazing the riches of God’s love and delight on His Son Jesus and on his sons/daughters adopted by grace, above and beyond (and often in spite of) our feeble efforts in trying to please God due to our own merits and attempts.