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Well-Pleased by Our Savior

Sermon 1836 Matthew 3.13-17 January 8, 2023

The olive green canned peas stared at me. I had done my bit with the left over pot roast and instant mashed potatoes. But you can only ask so much out of a nine year old. There wasn’t enough milk in the world to wash this down and my glass was already half empty. I pushed the peas around the plate, hoping enough would disintegrate or fall off the plate so it looked like I had eaten them.

“Not good enough for you?”

My mother was on to me. Maybe if I pretended not to hear her she would turn her attention to my siblings. But they always cleaned their plates.

“My cooking not good enough for you?” my mother continued her line of questioning. She should have been a prosecutor.

“Well, I…” I had noticed a lot of times adults lost interest if you never finished your sentences. Not this time.

“Well, if you think you are too good to eat dinner with your family…”

I also had noticed when adults didn’t finish their sentences, you better do something—quick! I started to shovel the peas into my mouth and swallow them whole. End of discussion.

If, on Judgment Day, you want to be in my place and Jesus is playing the role of my mother, don’t listen to me for the next few minutes. But if you want to eat at the table with the family of God for all eternity, maybe there’s something in God’s Word we need to hear.

Well-Pleased by Our Savior

1. God the Father is.

2. We should be, too.

God had given John the Baptist the command to proclaim the Savior was near, at hand. That was the point of half of the Advent Gospel readings this year. To do so, he baptized all who came to him. That was God’s will for John. That was God’s will for his people—that they might be ready for the work of the Promised Savior.

Jesus was also obedient to God the Father’s will. He came to the Jordan to be baptized by John.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (16-17).’”

The Holy Trinity reveals itself here. The Father, speaking from heaven, the Son, walking up out of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descending in the bodily shape of a dove upon the Son. Three different, let’s call them persons, doing three different things, yet one God. “The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6.4).”

Yes, the Holy Spirit is filling Jesus, according to his human nature, with the strength and stamina to carry out his mission. So wonderfully the Holy Spirit did its job, Jesus will be able to function forty days in the wilderness without eating anything while the devil tempts him. Call the coroner if we go forty hours without food!

But look at the words of the Father. “With him I am well pleased.” God the Father is well-pleased with God the Son. God the Father is tickled pink by Jesus.

Growing up we all wanted the praise of our father or mother. When I hear stories about how some people’s lives have turned out, I shake my head and think no one has the power to hobble a child’s development like parents. “Good job!” was worth more than a trip to the DQ. “That’s my girl!” was a tiara that made Miss America’s crown look like tinsel. The praise from mom and dad meant everything.

Jesus wasn’t growing up. He had been God for all eternity. It wasn’t that God the Father came first and then, after a while, the Son of God came along and learned the ropes by observing God the Father. The Son and the Father are coeternal, fully God. Every adjective you want to use for one you have to use for the other. Same with the Holy Spirit. No, the Son of God is the Son of God in that he obeys the Father’s will. He carries out the commands of the Father. That is at the heart of sonship among humans. “He’s like a son to me,” a boss says about his trusted right hand man. “You are no son of mine,” the too-often disappointed father spits out at his wayward son. The movies are full of stuff like this. Art imitates life.

That’s why the second person of the Trinity chooses to present himself as the Son of God. He is perfectly obedient to his Father’s will. He carries out the Father’s will.

Imagine how that made Jesus feel. There is joy and happiness in every family, tempered as it is by sin and limitations. There is infinite joy and happiness between the persons of the Trinity. The three persons of the Trinity enjoy and rejoice with each other. Here is just one example. The Father’s pride, the Son’s unspoken satisfaction. Jesus is determined to carry out the Father’s will—even if it means death on a cross-- he loves him so much. The Father is happy to do anything Jesus asks of him—even if it means forgiving us--he loves him so much.

Now look at the testimony God the Father has left for the world. “With him I am well pleased.”

Jesus had led the perfect life up to this point. The God who knows all and sees all, the holy God who cannot lie, says he is well-pleased with Jesus. Jesus has not sinned. Not once. He could have been sarcastic with Mary when she tried to throw him under the bus in the Temple. “Son, why have you treated us like this?” like Jesus was responsible for them forgetting about him and losing him for three days. Instead he was obedient to them and grew in grace and favor before God and men. He could have thrown his weight around when John hesitated to baptize him, but instead he said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” God the Father had seen. God the Father was watching. God the Father proclaimed that for the first thirty years of his life, Jesus was perfectly sinless, holy and righteous.

Well-pleased with our Savior. God the Father is. We should be, too.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’

Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented (13-15)”

John is so well-pleased with Jesus he doesn’t feel worthy to baptize Jesus. John is baptizing for the forgiveness of sins. John knows all about Jesus. John knows Jesus has no sins to forgive. Jesus should be baptizing John. When Jesus reminds John of the Father’s will, John consents. That’s good enough for John. John is well-pleased with our Savior.

That leaves us, staring at those lonely peas on the plate.

“Think you’re too good to eat dinner with this family?” I know our sinful human nature thinks that. Jesus told a parable about it one day. Since all the nobles and uppity-ups had rejected the invitation to his son’s wedding, a king invited commoners and the homeless who were living in the shrubs and by the highways. The king dressed them all in fancy clothes fit for the ritzy wedding banquet. But when the king walked through, he found one guy who had thrown the white tux in the corner and got back into his own grubby, raggedy robes. “Friend, how did you get in here dressed like that?” The man had no answer. The king ordered him thrown out into outer darkness.

Oh, please, don’t think we are too good for God’s free gift of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Don’t think we are so good we can earn heaven with our grubby, raggedy, imaginary good deeds.

Well-pleased with Jesus. We should be and we are!

Here is a Savior who meets our every need. He did what not a one of us could do. He led the perfect life. Never drank too much beer. Never snuck out of the house after dark. Never lied about where he had been. He led the perfect life and because God the Father is well-pleased with our Savior, God the Father credits that perfect life of Jesus to your account and to my account. When God the Father looks at us he sees his Son, he sees little Christs. He sees people clothed in robes of Jesus’ righteousness.

Well-pleased with our Savior? You bet! I actually think other Christians who are taught you have to make yourself miserable for your sins or do some sort of imposed penance, I think other Christians envy us to the point of wondering whether we are Christians at all, we live such guilt-free lives. They scratch their heads at us. “You don’t have to be good to get to heaven? Then why be good?” They can’t wrap their heads around it. Jesus has so completely paid the price for our sins, there is no room for guilt. There is no room for pride. There is only room for Jesus. We love him with all our heart and soul and mind. Of course we want to live a godly life as a way of giving him thanks.

Well-Pleased by Our Savior

1. God the Father is.

2. We should be, too.

“Not good enough for you?”

On the contrary. When Jesus is being served, give me seconds and thirds. He’s my favorite. And yours, too!

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