|Worship practice at Redeemer this morning.|
This morning during worship at Redeemer I had one of those powerful God-encounters that happen to me periodically. God told me - again - that he loves me. The sense of this was overwhelming. It was different than the mere acknowledgement of a great truth. The reality that I am one of God's beloved children was working its healing deep in the rooms of my soul. As I stepped up to preach I knew this truth, anew.
When the Father spoke the same to Jesus it was the defining moment of his life.
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
11 And a voice came from heaven: “
You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
- Mark 1When Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism three things happened.
1. He saw the heavens above violently ripping open. The Greek word for "torn" is schizein. This word is used in Mark 15:38 when the Temple curtain is torn from top to bottom. This is a demonstration of God's power, setting the stage for what comes next.
2. He saw the Spirit descend "into" (eis) him. Not "upon" or "on" him. Into him. New Testament scholar James Edwards says "the Greek intensifies the union of Jesus and the Spirit” “the Spirit was descending into him,” indicating Jesus’ complete filling and equipping for ministry by the Spirit.” (Edwards, Mark, 37)
3. Finally, Jesus heard the words "I love you. You are my Son. With you I am well pleased."
With these words Jesus is totally free from everything and fully open to the Father. Henri Nouwen writes:
"It is with this knowledge of being the Beloved that Jesus could walk freely into a world in which he was not treated as the Beloved. People applauded him, laughed at him, praised him, and rejected him. They called out “Hosanna!” and they called out “Crucify!” But in the midst of all those voices, Jesus knew one thing—I am the Beloved; I am God’s favorite one. He clung to that voice." (Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living, p. 11)
“If we are not claiming that voice as the deepest truth of our being, then we cannot walk freely in this world.” (Ib.)
This morning I heard again that I am loved. Not because I am so great, but because God is. I'm carrying this truth in my heart as I retire to sleep, and will awake to read these words again. If I keep this in mind I can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing my identity, because my identity is that I am God's beloved.