I heard someone once say that with prayer or reading Scripture, one usually comes more naturally to people than the other. I’ll be honest, reading the Bible is hard for me. I rarely know where to start; so the other day I decided I would start with my favorite part of it all – Jesus. I opened to Matthew 1 and just started reading.
Matthew 3 tells the story of Jesus’ baptism. There are many amazing things about this story; it teaches us of Jesus’ humility – allowing John the Baptist to baptize Him, it shows us the Trinity all in one moment, and my favorite, it is when God the Father publicly speaks Jesus’ identity over Him.
I love that Jesus was baptized. Obviously He didn’t need to be in order to be cleansed, holy, pure, or anything else. He already was all those things. Which can teach us something about baptism too – When we are baptized, declaring that we have been brought from old life into new, we are a living picture of the Gospel. We show the world what we already are – redeemed.
The Heavens opened, and God declared: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Can you imagine hearing that from the Heavens? Listen closely, and you will.
Jesus was baptized, had this beautiful moment with His Father, and went on from there knowing His identity.
The next chapter starts with this: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…”
I’m sorry, what?? Jesus was led by.the.Spirit. into one of the most challenging and human situations He experienced in His time on earth.
How could God do this to Him?
Because God knew Jesus could withstand the temptation – because Jesus knew who He was. He knew His identity. This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
Only when we know who we are and Whose we are can we withstand temptation.
So Satan sneaks around trying to tempt Jesus with the things that tempt us all – food when we are hungry, a following when we feel lonely, and power when we feel weak.
Jesus withstands, telling Satan all of his ideas are temporary solutions to temporary problems, because when you know you are the beloved Son of God, making bread out of rocks just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Knowing our identity is the only way we can stand strong when the devil is pointing out our weaknesses and offering “solutions.”
When we can live in that place, that place of knowing we are God’s Beloved children, who He not only loves but likes, we can live so freely and fully.
He is well pleased in you – do you believe that? You bring a smile to His face. No matter what temptation you may have fallen prey to in the past, you are His beloved child. You have been brought from death to life – you are a living picture of the Gospel. He literally opened the Heavens, sent His Son to die for you, because He loves you so much. He opened the Heavens to dwell among us, to declare over us our identity.
Let us live in this way. Believe that you are a loved child of God. Believe that He is pleased with you – He created you after all, and He designs with purpose. Coming out of the resurrection waters of baptism declares us free from sin and acceptable in God’s sight. We are able to come before Him knowing our identity, knowing He loves and delights in us.
And we, like Jesus, can then withstand even the devil’s temptations, and continue on in the life God has set out for us.
I heard this song last night, and loved the chorus especially:
I will rise and stand redeemed
Heaven open over me
To your name eternally
Endless glory I will bring