How Jesus Met the Father

 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Matthew 3:13-17

Ok. I’m going to start out here and just address the elephant in the room. I know the title for this week’s sermon is Fake News. In the utmost sense of anything that could be wrong, the title is wrong. Clearly Jesus has always known his father because he responded in the temple when he was just a little boy with, “Don’t you know I was in my father’s house?” And, since Jesus is of the exact same substance as God, the Greek word is homoousias meaning “of one substance”, he clearly knows God and knows himself and all of the incredible secrets of the universe he was a part of creating. So why then, if knew all of that, did include Jesus in the “How I Met the Father” series that we’re wrapping up today? I did it because this is a pretty remarkable moment in the Bible and it fits in a certain aspect. It fits because this is the first time we see God and his Son, Jesus, interact in the scripture. We can be sure they interacted plenty before this moment, but for us – the viewers – this is a critical moment because we get to see the identity of Jesus as spoken by his Father.

Identity can be a weird thing. It’s a weird thing because we change it so often and its dictated by the things in our lives and the people we’re with. For instance, think about who you are at work. Who do your colleagues say you are? What about you family? What is your identity in your family? What about to yourself? Who do you think you are and what is your identity? It’s no wonder that one of the great debates of the current age has to do with identities as it even applies to biological complexes now. Identity has always been important to the human experience and it was part of Jesus’s experience as well. Maybe you’ve never really considered identity before, maybe you’ve just gone through life being yourself and not thinking about it or worrying yourself over it and that’s awesome! But, today I want us to really look at what happens in the meat of this story and what it means for us as followers of Jesus Christ. For those of us who identify as Christians and have that as our clearest identity.

Identities aren’t always clear either are they? A clear example I was able to remember from my own life was when I was in 6th grade, I think. I had been playing hockey for about 3 years or so at that point and when I moved from New Jersey to Iowa I would say that I identified as a baseball player above anything else – sports are a clear identity theme for me if y’all haven’t picked up on that yet – but after I moved to Iowa, hockey became a huge part of my life and I still love hockey to this day – Go Avalanche!

Anyway, I was pretty good when I was little, but I was always a little hesitant to be physical. I didn’t necessarily like hitting people and I wasn’t a naturally aggressive kid. But I was fast and I had skill with a puck on my stick. So I found myself excelling in league but I was always on the B team when it came to put travel teams and our more competitive teams. I didn’t necessarily like hitting people and if a puck went into a corner I kind of backed off and tried to make the steal as they came out rather than going into the corner aggressively myself to go get it. In essence, I was a luke-warm hockey player. But, I think others saw something that I didn’t see and one of those people was my mom.

I had this turning point moment at a  tournament. I had just played a game where I think we had lost or maybe just eeked out a win. But, I had played pretty timidly and hadn’t done my best in the game. She pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted to be a hockey player or if I was ready to give up on it and try to focus on baseball or golf or one of the myriad of other sports I played at the time. I responded and told her I wanted to play hockey and I wanted to be a hockey player. She looked me in the eye and said, “Then the next time a puck goes into that corner you better be the one that comes out with it. You can’t just let the other team have it, you have to want it more than they do. Get aggressive. Get in their face and don’t give up until you’ve chased that puck down and put it in the net.”

Now, don’t get the wrong impression here. My mom wasn’t giving me carte blanche to go maul people on the ice. She was helping me understand how to attain the identity I wanted to achieve. And… it worked.

One year and a few months later I stood in a packed arena and was awarded the title of National MVP for the 12 and under division and our team had just won the national championship. I was a hockey player. That was my identity and sometimes it takes somebody else to help tell us what our identity truly is or at least help guide us towards the identity we desire.

Now, I highly doubt anybody in this room right now has ever desired to have the identity of “Hockey Player”, but I bet all of us have desired to have the title of Christian. Or, maybe Disciple. Follower of Jesus. Or, how about Child of God. Just like I did at that hockey tournament, we know what we want to be, but we need somebody else to help us understand what that truly means. For me as a youth hockey player, it was my mom getting in my face for one of the first and only times in my life, but for us as Christians it’s understanding that Jesus is the one who teaches us how to live into the title. How to own it for ourselves and live it out in our day to day lives and one of the main starting points for most of us is understanding what it means when we accept that title, “Child of God.” And this scripture is the perfect way to introduce it.

We enter this section of scripture on what becomes the outset of Jesus’s ministry  here on earth. He’s all grown up now which means he’s completed Rabbinic schooling and his discipleship and it’s time for him to begin his own Teaching with his own disciples. But, before he goes to really get started he does two things. He gets his earthly body baptized, and he goes into the wilderness and puts his earthly body to the test against his spiritual enemy, Satan. The accuser.

And, I think its interesting that he does these things in that specific order instead of doing them in the reverse. He goes before his Heavenly Father and fully submits all of himself unto God before he goes into battle with his biggest rival. Now, I don’t think it would have made much difference to Jesus if he had done them in reverse. I think Jesus is sovereign and there are none who reign over him and that means here on earth as well as in heaven. Satan has no way of touching Jesus, and he makes his earthly victory over Satan that much sweeter with this little taste at the beginning. But, he wasn’t just the Son of God who was sent to save man. He was also sent to teach us. To show us that a human CAN follow God’s commandments if we can only set ourselves aside enough to let him in. So, Jesus first shows his submission. He not only shows his submission to God, but he gives us this incredible glimpse of who He is as a master. He goes to John the Baptist in a river and is immediately recognized by his cousin. John, knowing who Jesus is and knowing that he’s here laying the groundwork for the victory to come, sees Jesus and immediately says, “Why on earth should I be baptizing you, you’re Jesus!?! You should be baptizing ME!” There is not a single word there said that wasn’t true. John got it before anybody else was even partially aware of it. Which is ALSO crazy to think about right? Jesus grew up as the Son of God, clearly different from his friends and definitively departed from his classmates. He studied under a Rabbi and still was never mentioned before the Gospels of his Apostles. Jesus is CLEARLY the most humble human being that has ever lived and we get that first hand here in his baptism. He humbles himself before a simple human doing work on behalf of his Father, and then submits his earthly body before the Father in a cleansing of water. His baptism.

Y’all, I don’t know about you, but I dream of being that kind of humble. I’m humble to an extent, but this story always reminds me just far I have to go. But, one of the recurring themes we have seen throughout these testimonies from the Bible – Jacob, Moses, & Saul – as well as testimonies from just about anybody, is that coming to God begins with humility. It begins with setting aside yourself and choosing to allow somebody else to lead. To follow, and not to follow out of fear, a great leader who’s wrath is clear and in your face like one of the kings of old, but to follow on faith. To follow a leader who himself was a servant because you have the faith that this leader gets it. That he is different from other leaders, and he is worth following. To humble yourself, and to follow in faith.

The next part though is the part that I find to be absolutely beautiful. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan and as he is raised back up out of the water a dove descends from a sky and God’s voice says, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Other versions of the Bible use the more literal translation of the last part to read, “This is my Son, whom I love; in him I delight.” I love that version. “In him I delight.” Can you imagine how good it feels to hear those words from your parents. It is like saying, “I’m proud of you,” on steroids. Those words are incredibly powerful. I believe they were powerful even for Jesus. I have to imagine it was one of those moments where you already know something, but it’s really nice to hear it anyway.

And it is nice to hear words like those. To hear that somebody loves you, that they’re proud of you. That they delight in you. Because a lot of times there are other words that are whispered into our ears. “You’re not smart enough.” “You don’t fit in.” “You’re unwelcome.” “You’re not enough.”

Y’all, the enemy is always at work and he starts whispering his lies in our ears from a very early age and those lies can be innocent at first. They can be something as simple as a motivator. “You can do better.” But over time those simple lies in our hearts become something much more devastating. “You’re a disappointment.” That’s the way it was for me. And this was something that happened well after I met the Father and turned my life to Christ. But that lie was already in my heart. I realized very early on that if I was always just slightly disappointed with my previous progress, I would be motivated to do better and be better the next time. It was a lie that motivated me to become great at just about everything I’ve ever tried to do, but it was a lie that became so pervasive that I didn’t feel like I was worth loving. How could I be? I didn’t even love myself. So why would God or my wife or parents or anybody else love me either? It wasn’t until I had this scripture shown to me again that I realized how God saw me. I realized how God sees all of us. And, I realized that this moment we see Jesus meet the Father is the same way we ALL get to meet the Father.

Not with a dove from the heavens and a voice speaking grace over us. But, when Jesus went to that cursed tree on Good Friday, when he endured the whip, and the humiliation, and the death that we all deserved and he didn’t. He did something. He flipped this world on its head. Amen?! He flipped this world on it’s head and he didn’t just tear down the temple and rock the earth. He also took an entire creation of beings that were deserving of nothing and he made them heirs to the same throne that he himself can claim. He made all of us his brothers and sisters and not just little brothers and sisters in the Jewish sense, but fully adopted siblings. In the Jewish faith, when you adopt a child into your home it wasn’t just a little thing. When you adopted a child into your family they became eligible for just as much of the inheritance as the eldest son in the family. That means that all of us. Every single one of us is not just saved by Jesus, but we are entitled to the same titles that he himself was given from his Father. We are given this same blessing of being loved and in whom our Father delights. He DE-LIGHTS in all of us. No matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, and no matter what we’re going to do. He delights in us. That is a mind blowing and heart unlocking realization. At least it was for me. It made me realize that this lie that I had used to push myself was so much more devastating than it was motivating.

I would venture to guess that every single one of us carries a little lie in our psyche. It may not be something that you’ve dug into before or it may be something that you talk about and work through on a daily basis. But, there is a truth that is spoken over each and every person in this room. That truth is that when you meet the father or when you met the father he spoke these words over all of you, “This is my Child whom I love; in them I delight.” This is where the order of how Jesus went about his ministry mattered as much as what he did. None of us had the toolset to combat the enemy’s lies before we met the Father. But armed with these words, armed with this identity we have an ability to face down those lies and see them for what they are.

That is a beautiful thing to carry y’all. Don’t ever let this world or the enemy that rules it fade their impression upon your heart. Own them. Live them out. And know that this story may not have been about how Jesus met the Father, but it was how Jesus showed us how the Father greets us when we finally come to his door. You are all children of God. Own that identity and let the loving delight of the Father come along with it.

Let’s Pray.

About Pastor Payton

Payton splits his time and calling as the Head Pastor at New Hope Methodist Church and Macedonia Methodist Church in Waller, TX. Both churches are members of the Global Methodist Church denomination, and Payton is currently working towards his ordination as a Deacon in the GMC.

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