Jesus, the Flawless Lamb - Part One
And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
This statement out of heaven expresses to us the solidarity of the Father with the Son in all of the purposes of the incarnation. Jesus Christ did not leave the Father’s house on His own. At the very outset of His work the voice of God spoke and said, “What is happening here on earth I have initiated. What the Saviour is about to do I am doing. He will announce that the Son of Man is come to seek and to save the lost. This pleases Me. He is about to say that the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many. This pleases Me. He will go to the cross and offer His life as the surety of the new covenant, the guarantee of man’s acceptance with the Father. This pleases Me.”
In Liverpool in the last century, Bishop Ryle of the Church of England had this comment about the Father’s words: “There is a rich mine of comfort in these words, for all Christ’s believing members. In themselves, and in their own doings, they see nothing to please God. They are daily sensible of weakness, shortcoming, and imperfection in all their ways. But let them recollect that the Father regards them as members of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. He sees no spot in them. (Cant. 4:7) He beholds them as ‘in Christ,’ clothed in His righteousness, and invested with His merit. They are ‘accepted in the Be- loved,’ and when the holy eye of God looks at them, He is ‘well pleased”’ (John Charles Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel–St. Mark, James Clarke & Co. Ltd., p. 7).
Now consider for a moment the fact that three years later the Lord Jesus was taken to the Mount of Transfiguration, and as Moses and Elijah stood beside Him. Once more a voice came out of heaven with the same words: “This is My beloved Son”, and the Father added, “Listen to Him” (Mark 9:7).
When a Passover lamb was taken into a Jewish home, it was kept there for three days and examined again, in case any imperfection had developed during that time. Similarly, the Lord Jesus was identified by the Father at the beginning of His ministry and then at the end of the three “days,” the Father identified Him once more on the Mount, just before Jesus was taken out of the house of Israel to be put to death for our sins.
In those intervening years, the Lord Jesus walked with humanity. He associated with sinners and people who were hated and condemned. He had left heaven to become a man, to live among people of great need. He moved among them with a readiness and an ease that made them know that certainly here was someone who was not one of them but who nonetheless loved them. The love of Christ for them was plain. There was none of the false respectability that so many associate with Christianity today. This outpouring of love pleased the Father.
If we as Christians take our faith and live apart from the world in an ivory tower, if we hold ourselves aloof while the world goes on its merry way to hell, we have not understood the heart of Christ, which caused Him to come and be baptized and identified with us. We have failed to understand the significance of Jesus Christ as heaven becoming earth for us without becoming earthy.
We are to become one with the world around us—not one in its aims or its methods, but one with it in love, ready to touch its infirmities, ready to meet its needs, ready to live so that men recognize that we possess what they so desperately need. The love of Christ cannot be brought to the world around us if we are not willing to be baptized into the world as Jesus was. We need to be identified with it, having our lives rooted in Christ, but living in the midst of a world that is alien to Him.
This is the meaning of the baptism of Jesus Christ. He was not baptized for the remission of sins. He had no sin. But He said, “Father, I’m going down there to be identified as a human being.” He persuaded John, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” And the Father said, “That is My Son. I love Him.”
- What incentive sent Christ to earth? Why is this so significant?
- What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
- Why did Christ have to “identify with humanity”?
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