9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
In these words of Mark we see Jesus’s entry point into his public ministry. Like the opening kick-off of a football game, the baptism of Jesus is the play that gets everything started. And yet, while nothing seems to have actually happened on the part of Jesus, the Father declares that in Jesus, he is “well pleased.” It’s not possible that the pleasure of the Father could somehow be misplaced. Jesus, without yet doing a thing, pleases his Father.
As we pass through Lent, the end of Jesus’s ministry comes into sharper focus. Although Mark doesn’t provide any details, we can see that the preparation before the baptism has been sufficient training to carry Jesus through each and every step of his ministry, including that final, very painful step: death on the cross, where he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). At this point, is the Father still pleased with Jesus? Mark is silent, but I believe the answer would be a resounding “Yes!”
The Nicene Creed reminds us that Jesus came to earth “for us and for our salvation.” There is nothing about his life and ministry that does not contribute to that final outcome of salvation for all who will place their trust in him alone. The Father is pleased in the preparation of the Son, and he is pleased as the Son lives a life that accomplishes exactly what was intended: the removal of our sin so that we could know real peace with God and receive the certain promise of eternal life with Jesus, our Savior and our Lord.
The Father is pleased at the baptism, and he must also be pleased at the crucifixion, for there could be no other way to reconcile sinners with a holy God but for Jesus to carry our sin away, clothing us in his righteousness.
Prayer: Lord God Almighty, thank you for the pleasure of the Father at the baptism of the Son, and for the faithfulness of the Son as he traveled to the cross. Clothe us in the righteousness of Jesus, fill us with the Holy Spirit, and shape our lives each day, so that they too are pleasing to you. Amen.
Brad Kautz serves as pastor of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church in Dulce, New Mexico, on the reservation of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, where he lives with his wife, Robin, their youngest daughter, and two foster children.