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A Pleasing Son (1:9-13)

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How do we know that someone is qualified to fill a particular position? If we are thinking about hiring someone to do a particular job, what assurance do we have that he has the ability to perform it? For many positions we will want to know what credentials a person has. If a man claims to be an engineer we will ask to see the document which certifies that he meets all the qualifications and standards an engineer must pass. In addition, we will examine the character of a person we consider hiring. For example, a person may be an extremely qualified accountant; he may have all the proper credentials, but we will not allow him to handle our business accounts if we know that he is a thief.

The same concerns are valid in spiritual things. We do not want to entrust our souls to someone who is not qualified. What qualifications does Jesus have? In the inspired Gospel which bears his name, Mark declares that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. On what basis does Mark say this? In chapter 1, verses 9 through 13, he writes, “In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.”

It is clear from this passage that Jesus did not appoint Himself to His position, nor did He claim titles which did not belong to Him. At Jesus’ baptism God gave two unmistakable proofs of His approval. The first is that heaven opened and the Spirit descended on Jesus. The prophet Isaiah yearned for God to reveal Himself to the people of his day. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,” (Isaiah 64:1 NIV) This is exactly what God did at Jesus’ baptism; He rent the heavens and had His Spirit descend on Jesus. Later, Jesus was able to say that He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me...” (Luke 4:18-21 NIV)

By means of the Spirit’s descent on Jesus, God visibly and publicly anointed Him to His position. Later, the Apostle Peter had this to say about this: “You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power,” (Acts 10:37-38 NIV)

The second sign of God’s approval of Jesus was a voice which came from heaven. God not only said that He was pleased with Jesus, He also proclaimed that Jesus is His Son. This is a fulfillment of Psalm 2, verse 7, “I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” (NIV) Many people are greatly offended that one of Jesus’ titles is “Son of God.” However, that is what God, Himself, called Jesus. Who are we to contradict God?

Before going forward it is necessary to answer an important question. Earlier, Mark wrote that John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). Scripture is very plain that Jesus never sinned. In fact, if He had sinned, He could not have become our Savior. Why, then, did Jesus submit to John’s baptism? One answer is that John’s baptism was one of repentance. To repent is to turn away from a course of action. By His baptism, Jesus was publicly turning away from His prior life and accepting the role and work God anointed Him to carry out. At His baptism Jesus died to His life as a carpenter. From then on His life would have a new direction.

Having God’s approval does not mean that we will not encounter trouble or difficulties. Having God’s Spirit does not mean we will never have to face evil. Immediately after His baptism, the Spirit sent Jesus into the wilderness. There, Satan tempted Him for forty days. During Moses’ time, God called the nation of Israel His “son” (Exodus 4:22). He then led the nation into the wilderness where they wandered for forty years. One of God’s purposes for this was to test and refine them. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what is in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV) God’s “son” Israel, failed the test. Jesus, God’s Son, passed it.

Why would God make His Son suffer in this way? It was a necessary part of His preparation for the work God sent Him to earth to do. The writer of Hebrews says this about Jesus, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of salvation for all who obey him...” (Hebrews 5:8-9 NIV)

Mark does not elaborate, but we know from other accounts that one of the things Satan questioned was whether Jesus really was the Son of God. He told Jesus to prove it by performing miracles. Jesus refused. Later, Jesus would indeed prove His divinity and that He came from God by performing miracles. However, He would do nothing at Satan’s prompting. Instead, He always listened to and did His Father’s will.

Jesus overcame every temptation by quoting Scripture. From this we get an insight into Jesus’ character. God’s holy word was ingrained so deeply into His being that He could withstand anything which was contrary to it. Perhaps one reason we find it difficult to withstand temptation is that we have not absorbed God’s word into our beings as we should.

Mark writes that during this forty days of being tempted by Satan, Jesus “...was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him” (Mark 1:13) At Jesus’ baptism, God anointed Jesus to be King. Later Jesus said, “...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 NIV) The Apostle Paul writes that, “...God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” (Philippians 2:9-10 NIV) Here we get a glimpse of Jesus’ authority and position. The wild animals did not flee from Him. Angels attended Him. Have we acknowledged Jesus as our King?