Sunday, January 13, 2013



Today’s Gospel recounts Luke’s rendition of the baptism of our Lord. As Luke recounts (Luke 3, 21-22):

“After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’”

As I have read that passage through the years, I have often felt that somehow those words of the Father were intended not only for Jesus but would some day, perhaps even now, be intended for me, or for any reader of this passage. But then I come to my senses and think that couldn’t be possible; how could God be so pleased with me that he would actually say so, as He did with His Son. After all, He had plenty of reasons to be pleased with Jesus; with me, not so much. Surely, it is the height of vanity to think that God would come out and say He is pleased with us; after all, compared to what Jesus did, or even what the great saints and holy people of history have done, most of us, or at least I, have not done much, or at least not much that was good and worthy of note or recognition by God.

But then I dispense with the filter of reason and pick up the filter of faith.

God is indeed pleased with all of us. Those of us who are parents can see, maybe not at all times easily, but we can see, how God could be pleased with all of us who are in communion, even remotely in communion, with him. What parent is not pleased with his or her children? Of course, we are not always pleased with what our children do, the decisions they make, or how they live their lives, but we are pleased with them, we delight in them. Perhaps the only caveat I would thrown in here is that we can’t be pleased, or at least not well pleased, with those who have cut off contact with us. How can we be pleased with those we don’t know, who have chosen not to know us? Likewise, God is pleased with all of us who let Him have access to us. He wants to be pleased with all of us and strives to establish the contact that would make this possible; all we have to do is let Him establish that contact. That doesn’t mean we have to follow a bunch of rules, join a religion, or even publicly profess our faith, though the latter two may, or may not, come later. It just means that we have to be open to the love of God…to enable us to please Him simply because we are His, or Her, children and want to know Him, or Her, to be with Him, or Her.

Is He “well pleased” with us? I suppose He is, and the degree of his pleasure with us doesn’t matter all that much. Again, those of us who are parents know that our degree of pleasure with our children tends to vary, though our love never does. I still, however, cannot get over the thought that if the Father was “well pleased” with Jesus, all of us have a long way to go on our journey of faith before we reach that pinnacle. But that is the point of life.

The next time you hear or read this passage from Luke, or its parallels in the other Gospels, imagine God’s speaking about you when S/he says “This is my beloved son (or daughter), with him (or her) I am well pleased.” It’s not only comforting; it’s true.


Steve Eckdahl said...

Reminds me of Matthew 25:23

Well done, good and faithful servant.

John Gill's Exposition sums it up well:

Matthew 25:23
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

His Lord said unto him,.... The same words as he did to the other servant,

well done good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord: where the same commendation is made, and the same characters are given, as before; for a man that has lesser gifts, and is of less usefulness, may be as good and as faithful in his service, and as praise worthy, as a man of greater gifts, and more extensive usefulness; and the same happiness is bestowed on one, as the other, which in neither is of merit; but of grace; and whatever difference may be made between the saints, or between one minister and another in the Millennium state, yet in the ultimate glory, their joy, bliss, and happiness, will be alike. It is not to be established from this parable, that man has a power to improve the stock of sufficient grace given him, and by his improvement procure eternal happiness to himself; since such a stock of grace is not designed by the talents; nor is that either gotten or improved, by the industry of man; nor does the parable suggest, that men by their improvement of the talents committed to them, do, or can, procure eternal happiness: "good and faithful" servants are indeed commended by Christ, and he graciously promises great things to them, which are not proportioned to their deserts; for whereas they have been "faithful over a few things", he promises to make them "rulers over many things"; and bids them "enter into the joy of their Lord"; into the joy, which of his grace and goodness, he has provided for them, and not which they have merited and procured for themselves: nor is it to be inferred from hence, that true grace once given, or implanted, may be taken away or lost; for the parable speaks not of what is wrought in men, but of goods and talents bestowed on them, and committed to their trust; which may be lost or taken away, or be wrapped up in a napkin, and lie useless by them; when true grace is the incorruptible seed which never dies, but always remains; that good part which shall never be taken away nor lost, but is inseparably connected with eternal glory.

If not for Grace...

The Pontificator said...

Thanks, Steve. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

I like Gill’s exposition of God’s grace and its role in making us “beloved sons in whom He is well pleased” and “good and faithful servants.” Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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