THIS is My Son!

The Spirit of God and the voice from heaven confirmed the calling and identity of Jesus - Son of God and Messiah of Israel

Wilderness Stream - Photo by Eugene Kuznetsov on Unsplash
In the gospel of
Mark, Jesus first appears at his baptism in the Jordan. The passage identifies him with his hometown, Nazareth, a small village of no importance. But its very insignificance plays a part in the larger narrative - Jesus is the Messiah who does not fit popular expectations - even as he is anointed the Messiah in fulfillment of Scripture - [Photo by Eugene Kuznetsov on Unsplash].

"In those days.” At the time of this incident, John was baptizing suppliants in the Jordan River. But rather than recount the details of Christ’s baptism, the text stresses the events that accompanied it – The “rending” of the heavens, the divine voice, and the descent of the Spirit “like a dove”:
  • (Mark 1:9-11) - “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. And immediately, as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens being rent asunder and the Spirit descending as a dove to him. And a voice came out of the heavens: You are my Son, the Beloved. In you, I delight.”

REND THE HEAVENS


The heavens “being rent asunder” translates the Greek verb schiz┼Ź, which means to “split, rip open, tear apart; to rend asunder” (Strong’s - #G4977).

The same term occurs only once more in Mark as the veil of the Temple is “rent” in two when Jesus dies. The verbal link is deliberate:
  • (Mark 15:36-39) – “But Jesus, sending out a loud voice, ceased to breathe. And the veil of the Temple was rent into two from top to bottom. Now the centurion who was standing near, seeing that thus he ceased to breathe, said: Truly, this man was God’s son!

At his baptism, the “rending of the heavens” means the arrival of the Son of God is an event of cosmic significance. “Heaven,” the realm of God is opened, and therefore, His presence is now accessible to all men and women.

THE SPIRIT


In Mark’s account, it is Jesus who sees the Spirit descending “like a dove” and hears the heavenly voice. That he sees the Spirit and hears the voice demonstrates this is an actual event, not a mystical or visionary experience.

The preposition applied to the Spirit’s descent stresses movement “into” or “onto” something or someone (eis). Perhaps the Spirit enters Jesus at this point, although the verb and preposition more probably point to it coming to rest upon him. This is the moment when he is anointed for his messianic mission.

The gospel account employs a simile. The descent of the Spirit is “like” a dove. It does not say the Spirit is a dove or looks like a dove. Instead, its gentle descent is analogous to a dove landing on the earth or a perch.

THE VOICE


Jesus then hears the voice call him “beloved Son.” God’s voice is heard only once more in the gospel of Mark when it makes a similar declaration at Christ’s transfiguration.

In the present passage, the heavenly voice combines words from two Old Testament passages to present the scriptural understanding of just who and what the Son of God is, for he has arrived in the world to fulfill the promises of Yahweh:
  • (Psalm 2:7) - “I will surely tell of the decree of Yahweh: he said to me, You are my Son, today, I have begotten you.”
  • (Isaiah 42:1) - “Behold, my servant whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”

Both passages are messianic. By combining them, Mark clarifies the identity and mission of Jesus. He is God’s “SonAND the suffering servant described in the book of Isaiah. Unjust suffering will characterize his messianic ministry and his sonship.

The descent of the Spirit means Jesus is now equipped to proclaim the kingdom of God. The heavenly voice demonstrates divine approval of this mission, not just because of who he is, but also because of his submission to the baptism of John.

Thus, his ministry begins with an act of obedience, and in fulfillment of Scripture. Whether his contemporaries understand his mission, Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah of Israel sent to save his people from their sins.



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