Private Words Made Public

Mark chapter 1 gives this account at Jesus’ baptism, “As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are My Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” Mark 1:11.

Notice this private event between Father and Son. According to the text, Jesus is the one who saw heaven being torn open. Jesus is the one who saw the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Jesus heard his Father speaking directly to him.

None of the Father’s words surprise us. We don’t doubt for a minute that the Father loves Jesus and is pleased with him. They have the closest of relationships, and we have some of Jesus’ most intimate words to his Father documented. What is unusual here is having the Father’s words to Jesus recorded. This is rare.

In another instance, when the Father’s voice is heard publicly, Jesus says, “the voice was for your benefit, not mine” (John 12:28-30). Jesus doesn’t need his Father’s words spoken aloud or recorded—but we do.

What are we to grasp from these personal words, Father to Son? Note the timing. The words are spoken at the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry, before he had done any miracles, preached any sermons, or surrendered his life as a sacrifice. The words are followed by forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan. At this pivotal time, God turns up the volume so we can hear a Father’s heart for his Son.

He affirms:
• Jesus’ identity— YOU ARE MY SON
• Jesus’ value— I LOVE YOU
• his approval— I AM WELL PLEASED WITH YOU

And what comes next? Jesus sets out to do his Father’s will.

Why does God want us to know how much he loves his Son? Why does he tell us?

Maybe, so that we’ll not question it as the rest of Mark unfolds, when the crowds turn against him, when his friends abandon him, when his request to let the cup pass is denied. Maybe.

More likely, he tells us for days when we set out to do our Father’s will, and find ourselves in over our heads, misunderstood, and prayers denied. He tells us so that we will rest secure in our identity as his sons and daughters, deeply loved, and with our acceptance never in question.

Did Jesus need the Father’s affirming words? I don’t know. But we do.

4 comments to Private Words Made Public

  • I didn’t memorize this passage but one of the benefits of memorizing is that you notice small details. An effective way to get more out of bible reading is to stop and ask questions of the passage: who? what? where? when? why? how?

  • Chérie

    Ok. So that was seriously awesome. What the heck? Am I the only one who read that verse umpteen times and never noticed that “he” saw heaven open.
    I should be annoyed…but I’m too fascinated.
    What else have I missed for crying out loud!

  • Elizabeth

    I loved this post- I know I need to hear these affirming words!

    That is one thing I have really noticed in memorizing too Janet! I love how spending time reading and re-reading the verses while memorizing helps me notice details and specific wording that I wouldn’t necessarily notice otherwise. Something about speaking the verses out loud helps me with this too.

    • So true. Often when I’m memorizing things jump out at me that I never saw before even though I know I’ve read the passage dozens of times in the past. God’s Word is alive.