God’s Love … To Us and Through Us

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 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 1:9-11)

Coming out of the obscure village of Nazareth, the unknown Jesus now makes His first public appearance by humbly acknowledging God through baptism though sinless. We are told in the gospel of Luke that our Lord was about thirty years old when He began to make His Way known (see Luke 3:23).

All four gospels record this momentous occasion of Jesus’ entry into the public limelight found in our verses for today. How fitting for Him to initiate His ministry with baptism, signifying His acceptance into His mission. The gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ words regarding His purpose in baptism:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. (Matthew 3:13-15)

The sinless, pure, unspotted Savior completely fulfilled all righteousness in order to be the perfect sacrifice for you and for me. He was made sin for us on the cross so that those who would put their faith in Him would then be made righteous. We are made whole when we trust in Him. Jesus’ death satisfied the wrath of God against sin. He paid for it in full by His substitutionary death for us on the cross. Paul tells us:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Isaiah had prophesized:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

In our verse for today we see all three members of the Trinity–the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit–present. It is the inauguration of the work of redemption. The same three were active in the world’s creation and now all three are active in its redemption. In his wonderful book King’s Cross, Timothy Keller says:

“Mark is deliberately pointing us back to the creation, to the very beginning of history. Just as the original creation of the world was a project of the triune God, Mark says, so the redemption of the world, the rescue and renewal of all things that is beginning now with the arrival of the King, is also a project of the Triune God.”

The Trinity–one God in three persons–is mysterious and difficult (to say the least) for us to understand. The Godhead, who throughout all eternity, past and future, knows and loves and communes with one another. They glorify and love one another and are of one will, one heart, and one mind. They are characterized by a self-giving love, each voluntarily orbiting around the other. Their love encompasses who they are, and it flows out and through us as well. Paul tells us in Romans:

God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5)

Take It to Heart

God’s love as shown through each person in the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– is not a patronizing love nor is it a love that we will be able to exhibit overnight. Biblical love is cultivated and nurtured–developed and refined as we grow up in Christ. It does not often happen miraculously and it is maintained through discipline that only is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the joy of life. It is experiencing life in the full.

“God’s love is always supernatural, always a miracle, always the last thing we deserve.” (Robert Horn)

“God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’” (Oswald Chambers)