We begin with the words recorded in Matthew which we heard earlier:
THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.
Jesus has just been baptized by John the Baptist. He comes up out of the water, the heavens are opened and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him and a voice from heaven says:
THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.”
That scripture has always intrigued me. THIS IS MY SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. My goodness! Think about it: He hasn’t even performed His first miracle yet, hasn’t raised any one from the dead, hasn’t preached any Good News of the Gospel to any one, hasn’t argued with the scribes and Pharisee: BUT, God is pleased with His Son. Why? He hasn’t fulfilled any prophecies about Himself yet, that is with the exception of the 200 or so prophecies that spoke of His birth.
Well, Jesus was about 33 years old when He began His ministry and began to fulfill all that was written about Him. But why this scripture intrigues me is ‘what did Jesus do for those first 33 years of his life.’ Whatever it was, it was pleasing to God. So apart from all the miraculous things He did, and before He even did them, God was pleased with Him.
Well maybe this is why!
He made all the proper offerings to the temple, his required 10%. Something we are still expected to do. He attended the required services in the tabernacle. He obey all, that is, all, of God’s laws and ordinances and statutes and oracles and really did everything expected of a Jewish person. All of this while growing up, and working, and learning. Probably working a trade, a carpenter, but still studying and learning God’s Holy Word. The point is, He did not have to be MIRACULOUS or do miraculous things in order to be pleasing to God. An additional point is, “How close do we come to doing what He did? We are certainly not miraculous but live a normal life as He did for those first 33 years. God was pleased with Him. How pleased is He with us?
Now I said earlier that Jesus fulfilled everything that was expected of a Jewish person. After all, the law was given to the Jews. But we begin to hear rumblings of something strange. Something different. Something new. Moving to our reading from Acts we first hear these rumblings. It is the story of Peter and Cornelius.
We must approach this story from the perspective that Cornelius is not a Jew. He is actually a Gentile, HOWEVER, he is a person who was devout and FEARED GOD. That is, the God of the Jews. Now when the scripture says, ‘He feared God” it means that he has given up any pagan beliefs or religions in favor of believing in the God of the Jews.
Without going into the entire story we learn that Cornelius is to send for Peter. Peter in the meantime is having visions which he does not understand. Take time to read this story – a very important one for us Gentiles. The entire 10 th Chapter of Acts. At any rate, Peter finally comes to Cornelius the Gentile, which was actually forbidden under Jewish Law, and discovers that the Holy Spirit, thought to be a Jewish Spirit, can actually fill a Gentile too.
This is when Peter says,
“In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation, [meaning even a Gentile nations], whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
Chapter 10 vs 35.
Peter then begins to outline all that Jesus did and what happened to Him in crucifixion and finally concludes that,
“To Him all the prophets witnessed that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
What a tremendous realization! Anyone, anywhere, who believes in Him will receive remission of sins. Now whether you realize it or not, that is just an unbelievable and incomprehensible FACT. Imagine the magnitude of what He has done. Listen to what the Apostle Peter later writes in his epistle:
1 Peter 2:24 (RSV)
He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.
Do you know what that means? Well earlier I spoke of how God said, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased” and then ask the question, “has our lives been such that He could say the same about us?” Well, if you fear God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who bore your sins on the cross and by whom you have been healed and forgiven and justified and redeemed, God can say of you, “This is my son or daughter in whom I am well pleased.” But only by the grace of God and the redeeming act of Jesus Christ.
One of the truly beautiful things about these Gospel lessons from Matthew and Acts is the fact that, GOD SAID IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS. Lets move back to the reading we heard from Isaiah.
Isaiah 42 beginning with verse one:
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom my soul delights.
Wow! Doesn’t that kind of sound like, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased? Then Isaiah writes, I have put my Spirit upon Him. Isn’t that what happen when John the Baptist Baptized Jesus and He came up out of the water? And moving to verse 6 we are surprised to learn that long before Peter learned that salvation would extend even to the Gentile nations, Isaiah had already prophesied that Jesus would be, “As a light to the Gentiles. A prophecy we sometimes overlook.
All of this happened because it was God who did it. And who is God? But who are we to define God? But Isaiah tells of God when he says:
Who created the heavens, stretched them out, spread forth the earth, gives breath to the people and a spirit, He will hold your hand, open blind eyes, will be a light to the Gentiles, bring out the prisoner, and God says this of Himself:
I AM THE LORD, THAT IS MY NAME; AND MY GLORY I WILL NOT GIVE TO ANOTHER
This is the God of our salvation and Jesus is the perfector of our faith. So again, even before His ministry and especially His death, God was pleased with Him. Is He pleased with us?