But I didn’t do anything?!
“Good job! I’m proud of you! You listened the first time I asked! Daddy is pleased with you.” Words of affirmation. Perhaps you’ve spoken similar words to a child in your life. Perhaps an incredibly impactful moment in your history that has stuck with you until this day is centred around such words spoken to you. Those are words we offer in reward for something that has been done.
Chronology matters. The time that words are spoken in a sequence of events makes a great deal of difference to the meaning or interpretation of those words, doesn’t it? “I love you.” Spoken at the outset those words communicate acceptance, relationship, unconditional love. “I love you.” Those same words spoken after an event likely are interpreted as only conditional love. Something has happened that has paved the way for love and acceptance to be offered. It was earned.
The words of the Father spoken out of the heavens concerning Jesus at his baptism are familiar words to many. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”(Mt 3:17). A great testimony and reference for Jesus to those witnessing the event. Here is something that floored me the first time it was pointed out to me. Those words were spoken at Jesus’ baptism, which was at the beginning of his ministry. This means that Jesus hasn’t DONE ANYTHING yet! How could the Father say He was pleased with the Son when He didn’t do anything yet that could warrant those words? What?! That’s crazy.
That event and those words have tremendous things to speak into the lives of disciples of Jesus today. As we explore and trace the themes of Covenant and Kingdom through the Bible, let me remind you what we’ve learned about biblical covenant. It is about relationship. It is a greater party extending to a lesser an invitation to a relationship of oneness. In covenant our Heavenly Father gives us our identity through the cross. We are children of God, not on the basis of anything that we do, but on the basis of what Jesus has done for us. We are united with Christ (Romans 6). And so when we read the affirmation of the Father for Jesus, we too can take that to heart. Your Heavenly Father loves you unconditionally. Receive his words for you today. He says that He loves you, and He is well pleased with you. Soak that in. You can be secure if you draw your identity from your Heavenly Father. And when we feel secure in another’s love for us, is there anything that we would not do for that person? As we understand covenant, our obedience will begin to flow freely out of our identity. When we connect the dots in the proper direction, we will experience the joy of the abundant life we are promised.