AT THE BAPTISM OF JESUS, GOD ENDORSES HIS SON AS BOTH BELOVED DEITY AND SUFFERING SERVANT EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO ACCOMPLISH HIS REDEMPTIVE MISSION
What a majestic moment as God the Father commissions God the Son for His earthly Messianic ministry of worldwide redemption. As Jesus fulfills all righteousness in submitting to this baptism by John, there can be no greater endorsement than the words uttered from heaven on this momentous occasion. The endowment with the Holy Spirit for public ministry that will take Jesus all the way to the Cross was memorialized with the appearance of this dove-like figure.
(:21a) THE OCCASION = JESUS BEING BAPTIZED BY JOHN
“Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized,”
Seems strange that Jesus would submit to this act since it signified repentance from sin. But here Jesus was identifying with the sinners whom He had come to redeem and was fulfilling all righteousness and presenting Himself to the nation of Israel as their promised Messiah.
I. (:21b-22a) TESTIMONY/ENDORSEMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
“and while He was praying, heaven was opened,
and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove,”
Trace the importance of prayer in the gospel of Luke and the importance of prayer in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus
Significance of heaven being “opened”
Geldenhuys: But although we are unable to form an idea of the “opening of the heaven”, it undoubtedly indicates that, after Jesus had now offered Himself so completely and voluntarily as the Substitute and Redeemer, God gave to His human consciousness a perfect revelation of the majesty and glory of the Father, and of the fact that He was the Son of God in an absolute sense.
John Martin: conveying the idea that God was breaking into human history with revelation – sovereignly declaring that Jesus is His Son.
Why the form of a dove? Possibly freedom from judgment? Purity? Innocence?
Donald Miller: Here is a coming of the Holy Spirit in a way which has no parallel in the Old Testament. On Jesus, the Spirit came in fullness and came to remain forever. For this reason, it was possible for Jesus to fulfill the mission of which John spoke, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (3:16)
The Fourth Gospel makes unmistakably plain what is implicit here in Luke, when John the Baptist says: “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33; see also John 3:34). Jesus can now impart the Holy Spirit by imparting himself.
II. (:22b) TESTIMONY/ENDORSEMENT OF GOD THE FATHER
“and a voice came out of heaven,”
A. Affirmation of His Person = Beloved Son
“Thou art My beloved Son,”
Application: We all need affirmation from our Heavenly Father.
Thabiti Anyabwile: All the Son has done to please the Father has become ours through our union with Christ through faith in him. This is why Christians have every right to fight those nagging doubts and whispers that come along sometimes to suggest God is not happy with us. If we have made the hard choice of repenting of our sins and coming to God, we can expect to hear blessing form God, not condemnation. We do not have to shudder and cower for fear of a harsh word of rebuke from God. . . . Because we are in him through faith, God is pleased with us.
B. Affirmation of His Works = Well-Pleased in the works of the Suffering Servant
“in Thee I am well-pleased.”
SermonWriter.com: These are essentially the same words that God will speak at the transfiguration (9:35), except that they are addressed to Jesus at his baptism—but to the disciples at his transfiguration. Verse 22 alludes to two Old Testament verses, “You are my son” (Psalm 2:7) and “my chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1).
Donald Miller: two strands of Old Testament thought which seem for the most part to have developed independently were brought firmly together in the mind of Jesus. Psalm 2 pictured one who bore a special relation to God as Son, “anointed” or commissioned to carry out his purposes (Ps. 2:2). The mission give to him was to subdue the nations and bring the ends of the earth into subjection to God’s Lordship (Ps. 2:8). But what was the method whereby this was to be done? Clearly that of coercive force. “You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:9).
Isaiah 42 is both similar and dissimilar to this. Instead of a Son, the chosen of God is a Servant. In this lies no contradiction, for what is true sonship but obedient service to the will of a father? The mission of the Servant is identical with that of the Son – “he will bring forth justice to the nations” (Isa. 42:1). His task is to bring all peoples under the divine sovereignty. But what of the method by which this was to be done? At this point there is a radical difference from the Second Psalm. Instead of violently smashing all opposition before him, “He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street” (Isa. 42:2). He is so gentle that he will not break off an already bent reed, nor snuff out the wick that gives no light (Isa. 42:3). . .
The Son and Servant are one and the same! . . . True sonship means obedient service. The Son must fulfill the role of the Servant.
Liefeld: the words “love” and “well pleased” convey the idea of choice and special relationship. Jesus has now received his commission. He is ready (following the Temptation, 4:1-12) to begin his ministry.