When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
In Matthew 3, we can see the ministry and message of John the Baptist, and it concludes with John baptizing Jesus. In the final verses of this chapter, as Jesus emerges from the water, God declares Jesus is His Son, calling Christ beloved and saying He is well-pleased with Jesus. This confirms His role as both the Son of God and the promised Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures.
Our Focus: “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”
Chapter 3 starts with a wilderness’ voice and ends with Heaven’s voice.
- John identifies the Messiah; the Father identifies the Son
- John points to Jesus; the Father positions Jesus
- John introduces the Messiah; God installs Him into ministry
The Rabbinic Technique [the interpretation not only engages the words of the text, behind the text, and beyond the text, but also focuses on each letter, and the words left unsaid by each line] will be used to study the focused text. There is also another technique called the “Stringing of Pearls” where they would string together parts of several verses to get one major point across.
Pearl 1: “This is my Son…” alludes to
“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You (Psalms 2:7).
This psalm has a royal enthronement context where nations rage and plot against God and His anointed (Messiah). The earthly kings are plotting against God, He laughs at them for He is Sovereign. God will set His King in Zion regardless of their earthly counsel. God’s Son will establish His kingdom and receive nations as His inheritance. An advice is given to all to submit to this mighty and triumphant King or suffer the consequences of His wrath. This psalm seems to be written for our days, where nations plotting and planning to save the world, such as the One World Government who have a global leadership with an anti-christ against God.
Looking at New Testament references,
- The apostles Peter and John, after being told not to preach Jesus (Acts 4:25-26), “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.”
- Paul in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:33), “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’”
- The writer of Hebrews, establishing the preeminence of Jesus Christ over the angels (Hebrews 1:5) “For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You” ? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”?”
- The Father also appointed the Son as the High Priest (Hebrews 5:5) “So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.””
Thus with God declaring, “This is my Son…” was proclaiming that Jesus is the SON OF GOD; and that He is the MESSIAH, the Son of David. Jesus is the Davidic Messiah that Jews are looking for.
Pearl 2: “…with Him I am well pleased.”
“Behold. My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, Till He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands shall wait for His law” (Isaiah 42:1–4). The quotation is from the First of Four Servant Songs in Isaiah. These are the four songs that allude to the Servant of the Lord, the One who will come to serve and establish the kingdom of God,
- Isaiah 42:1–4 will not quarrel
- Isaiah 49:1–6 not just to restore Israel but also to be a light to the Gentiles
- Isaiah 50:4–9 demonstrates the faithfulness of the Servant to the Lord
- Isaiah 52:13–53:12 victory of the Servant will be achieved through suffering
The chapter before speaks of Israel as a nation, Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, are My servant…” but Israel failed in fulfilling their assignment from God. As the chapter moves into 42, it moves from a corporate Israel to a person, Isaiah 42:1 “I have put My Spirit upon Him…”
In the New Testament, as Jesus warns people not to make Him known that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 42:1-4; Matthew 12:17-21).
Jesus is the Servant of God. The Second Israel.
Pearl 3: “whom I love”
This one phrase would remind the people of Abraham and Isaac. In Genesis 22:2, “Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Jesus is the Sacrifice, the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. Not just for Israel. But for all humanity. He is the Second Adam.
Stringing the three pearls, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” This is what the Father is declaring to everyone, this is my Son whom I have sent Him to serve you, to be your sacrifice.
QUESTION: What pleased the Father? How did the Son please the Father?
Till this point in time, Jesus had done nothing yet. He has no ministry. Not a single miracle. He had not gone to the cross. As such, many have a fallacy that it is enough just to be God’s Son and the Father will be pleased.
The Son pleased the Father as follows:
- How He lived: 28 years of growing up in the system and yet not institutionalised.
- How He will live: faithfully, in spite of the challenges and opposition
- How He will die: obedient to the point of death (Hebrews 5:8; Philippians 2:8), fulfilling His assignment (Hebrews 12:2), the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus pleased the Father through Faithfulness and Obedience to the Father’s Ways and Will. Can believers displease God? YES… We are God’s children, by the witness of the Spirit. Abba Father. We have an example in Jesus, our Big Brother. Israel, the other Big Brother, who displeased the Lord and gave us examples too that we may learn what not to do.
“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware … But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. … Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)
How then should we live?
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). We are to be God pleasers, not man pleasers.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:21–22).
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord (Colossians 3:20).
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).
Fear of the Lord
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. Psalm 147:11
Life in the Spirit
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5–8
Community. Do good and share.
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16).
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:15–19).
I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. 31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, Which has horns and hooves (Psalm 69:30–31).
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:9–10
Focus in Mission (Fulfilling assignment) – Know your assignment
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3–4).
We are not here to impress God but to please Him. We are not trying to have more “good” credits to outweigh the “bad” stuff. We are not trying to gain brownie points, to get on God’s good side.
In Christ, we are already right before Him. Our position with God is in Christ, by grace through faith.
In Christ, sons and daughters, sent to serve the Father’s will.