Living FROM approval, not FOR it...

"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." - Matthew 3:17

If there was anyone who didn't seem to need to hear this from his father it was Jesus.  Just saying.

But maybe we just don't understand how human Jesus really was, how much he needed encouragement, or the importance of certain rites of passage into manhood.  But I don't want to really camp out on any of those things today.

The thing that struck me today as I pondered these words spoken by a Father to his Son was the timing of these words.

Jesus was 30 years old.  He hadn't done any public ministry yet.  We have little recorded about the three decades of his life up to this moment.  No following.  No miracles.  No nothin'.

He was a carpenter by trade helping out his step-dad, Joseph, with the family b'ness.  He was from Nazareth and based on it's reputation ("What good thing could come out of Nazareth?") I'm guessing he wasn't doing anything impressive in his teens and twenties.  He laid low for 30 years so far as we can tell.  Purposefully.  We know this because even when he went public and performed a miracle, there were times he would tell people not to tell anyone what he did because "his time had not yet come".  Translation: I have a certain amount of time to do certain sequence of things before I die, so I don't need any popularity--any paparazzi--to rush the process.  It's safe to assume he was trying to keep a low profile so that when he declared who he was and why he came, he had the time needed to accomplish his nearly 3-year action plan.  I know, crazy to think he had to be that deliberate about how he rolled out his life, but he knew every second counted.

I say these things only to make a point: He was off the grid for the first 30 years of his life.  Living obediently in obscurity.  He wasn't doing anything to write home about, or for that matter, to write down in the gospels for us to know anything about.  He hadn't done anything particularly special yet.  No signs and wonders.  He hadn't started ministry in the classical sense of the term.  No one was impressed with him, save his Mother.  No preaching to masses on the mountainside.  No healing the diseased and disabled.  No casting out demons.  No raising dudes from the dead.  No water walking.  Nope.  None.  Nothing.


He was the only begotten Son of His Father.
He was loved deeply and dearly by his Father.
He was the pride and pleasure of His Father.

Point being...none of these things were performance-based. His Father spoke this over him before he started his earthly ministry.  This was true before he did anything.  He lived from this affirmation, not for it.  He lived from this identity, not for it.  In a world where we are used to hearing something like this after we've done something to earn the "attaboy" or "that's my girl", we just assume this must have come "after the fact or the act", but it was actually "before the fact/act".  God loves us and is proud of us because we're his kids, not because we perform some feat of strength.

We do stuff because we're loved.  We don't do stuff to get loved.

I feel like this is what I want to remember more than anything after my sabbatical is over.  If I could distill it down to one phrase it would go something like this:

"I am loved and God is pleased."

I wonder if Jesus said this to himself over and over again under his breath all day every day until the day he died.  I'm sure there were certain days he leaned back into those words--words spoken before he even started, sentiments that were true before he did a single thing to prove himself.  I think the reason he seemed so cool under pressure was his bedrock belief that, above all else, His Father loved him and was pleased with Him.  He lived with the affirmation and validation of His Father not based on what he did, but who he was.  He was his dad's boy.

I want to be anchored just the same...tethered tightly to that truth...the gospel, really.

I'm loved and God's pleased because I'm his child.  No One and Nothing can change that.

Jesus gave his life and took my sin so that I could be adopted into His family becoming His Father's son.

I can't do anything or undo anything to affect that reality.  My circumstances won't affect my standing with God, good or bad.  People's opinion, for better of worse, can't improve or diminish my value.  My feelings matter, but they aren't the final word.

What's cool is that God spoke this over His Boy two times in the three years of Jesus' earthly ministry, before it started and as it was ending.  Same phrase..."This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 

Nothing had changed.  He had it before he did anything and after he had done everything.

I live from approval, not for it.  This could change everything.


Popular Posts