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The Loving Intimacy Known by the Child of God

January 12, 2012

Mark 1:10-11 says: Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”

The other place in Mark’s Gospel where the Greek word translated “torn apart” is used is 15:38, where it says that at Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” Isaiah gave voice to the yearning of the human heart for intimacy with God, when he said, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (64:1). But for many years before Jesus’ Baptism, people had ceased to expect to hear God speak directly. They spoke of “the daughter of a voice” – a kind of echo, as being the most one could hope to experience. With Jesus, Mark says, this has all changed. There is now no barrier between us and God – no impediment to intimacy. Indeed, in Jesus, God has indeed come down from Heaven to dwell among us!

So it is not “the daughter of a voice” but the actual voice of God that speaks. And I would like to suggest that what God actually says shows the delight of the Father. “You are My Son” are words of joy!

Verse 10 continues to say that Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus. This is reminiscent of Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (NIV). It shows that Jesus will indeed have the power that John has predicted. Jesus rises out of the water, anointed by the Spirit to bring creation out of the chaos, out of the depths; to bring light out of darkness.

As we are connected to his life, we receive not just a washing, but a drowning – death and new birth, new life – his life, indeed the life of the Holy Trinity – in us.

This is what our own Baptisms are all about. 

Mickey Anders writes:
Baptism is not a bath, but a funeral bier. If it was a bath, you would need it again and again. But since it is a death and new life, it is a once for all picture of the transformation that has taken place in our lives. Baptism is not about your goodness; it is about God’s grace.

Because of God’s grace, because we are in Jesus’ life, God says to us, “You are my child, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Don’t we all long to hear those words?

At yesterday’s Celebration of the life of Len Mountford, a number of people offered words of tribute about Len. Two of those who spoke were Len’s sons, who shared about how wonderful it was to be Len’s son, and know he was proud of them. They knew they didn’t have to strive for his love – it was offered them freely from an unending supply, because of who their Dad was.

The same is true of our Heavenly Father.

We don’t need to strive, to try to earn God’s love. We can’t do anything to make God love us more or less than God already does – there is an unlimited supply, which is freely offered to us all.

(adapted from the sermon at our January 8 Services)

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