Love or for Love?

“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.’"—Mark 1:9–11 (NIV)

What’s in an introduction? You’ve probably seen where the famous actor introduces a famous singer at an awards show, rattling off her accomplishments, and then completely mispronounces her name. Millions of other introductions happen regularly without a hitch and don’t end up going viral. Either way, introductions are made about someone well-known, are comprised of that person’s accomplishments, and include his or her name.

In the Gospel of Mark, Mark follows this pattern. In the very first verse of this book, Mark introduces Jesus as the Messiah (or Savior), the Son of God, and the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Wow! What an introduction! Then, in verse 7, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as “the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” By the time we get to verse 9, we’re at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry—His baptism.

Baptism is symbolic of dying to sin as you go into the water, and being made new as you come up out of the water. Let’s be clear, Jesus was the sinless Son of God. He did not have to be baptized. He did it in obedience to the Father and to identify with the people he came to save as Messiah.

At that moment Jesus came up out of the water, heaven opened. The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. I imagine a celebration unlike any other because all of heaven knew this was just the beginning. The best was yet to come!

But what is perhaps the most powerful part of these three verses are the words of the Father. This is an introduction more amazing than Mark’s or John’s. “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Jesus hadn’t done anything yet. He had no accolades to declare, no accomplishments to brag about, no miracles to share! Why did God the Father proclaim His love for His Son here and not after His death? Or certainly after His resurrection? How could His Father be pleased with Him?

If you have the privilege of loving a child—whether your own, a niece, a nephew, or even a friend—then you can relate. Before that child does anything, his or her mere existence fills your heart with love.

This is how the Father looks at all of us who are His children. He declares our position as His son or daughter. He loves each of us. He is well pleased with us. It’s not because we’ve done anything for Him to earn His love. It’s because of what Jesus has done for us. He took on our sin and shame, exchanged it for His righteousness, and restored the perfect relationship between us and God. Before you ever had to “do,” Jesus “did.”

PAUSE: Reflect on the motivations of your heart. Are you trying to earn love or are you operating from love?

PRACTICE: In order to retrain your behavior to operate in love and freedom, be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Identify words like “I should” or “I have to” do this or that. Instead, replace those words with “I could” or “I get to.” For instance, replace “I have to read my Bible” with “I get to read my Bible!”

PRAY: Jesus, thank You for being obedient to the Father’s will and making a way for me to stand in right relationship with God. I’m amazed that before I do anything, You love me! Please help me to understand my identity as a child of God and to rest in the comfort of Your love. Amen

About the Author

Denise Trio

Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.