Very early in the book of Mark—at the beginning of his ministry—we get the story of Jesus being baptized by his cousin John, the first Baptist.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 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. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
This is a passage about calling and identity. As Jesus hears the voice of his Father, he is confirmed of his reason for donning skin and emerging on earth. He’s here for a reason. The “spirit like a dove” and the “well pleased” lines are throwbacks to Isaiah 42, where the messiah is promised as the bringer of salvation. The “son of God” language is first used in Psalm 2:7, where King David is spoken of as the son of God. So, when Mark pens this passage, he is demonstratively declaring that Jesus is the New David, the perfect king who has come to save the world.
But look closer at the passage. While all this is true, and there are most-certainly tasks that Jesus has come to perform, those tasks do not encompass his full identity. The way I see it, Jesus’ true identity comes not from what he does, but who he is. First and foremost, above all else, and apart from anything he does and says, Jesus is loved…and he is pleasing to God. It’s his true, central, undeniable identity: he is loved by God.
And of course, right?! I don’t love my kids based on what they do or accomplish. Sure, they have a God-given calling and identity that I pray they fulfill. But, first and foremost, regardless of anything they ever achieve in life, I love them. I am pleased with them. And God loves them too.
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