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11
The Triune God. Matthew 3:13-17
June 11, 2017

This week, in the magazine entitled Faith Today, an articled recounted a special advance screening of the movie entitled: The Shack.We need you to get the word out about this movie,” a PR rep enthused. “We wanted to handpick the key influencers we know will be using their social media to promote it.” The PR company was aware the movie had been controversial. But, they claimed, it contained “an incredible message about the hope of God,”. And so we would need to “be brave and courageous” in talking about the film and in taking our friends to see it if we hoped “to see more Christian movies like this one come to Canada.” Yet, many have been clear on its content: Tim Challies  said: “To watch The Shack is to watch human actors play the roles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Tim Challies www.Challies.com). Or as Adam C. Peiser put it, the movie: is “Suggestive of some unbiblical theology about the nature of God and the unique truth of Christianity.” (Adam C. Pelser www.Equip.org) (http://digital.faithtoday.ca/faithtoday/20170506?pg=42#pg42)

The public presentation of who the members of Godhead are and what exactly they do are of Great importance. In the Gospel of Matthew, after an eternity of glory in heaven and some thirty years of virtual obscurity on earth, the Messiah-King is manifested publicly for the world to see and know. As “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” John the Baptist had faithfully prepared the way for the King, even as Isaiah had prophesied (3:3; Isa. 40:3). The herald of the King had announced the coming of the King, and now the King Himself appears for His coronation. Speaking immediately to a Jewish audience, Matthew outlines in clear terms the divinity of Jesus as Israel’s King. The gospel writer has given us the King’s ancestry (Matthew 1:1–17), His arrival (Matthew 1:18–25), His adoration (Matthew 2:1–12), His attestation (Matthew 2:13–23), and His announcement (Matthew 3:1–12). Now, continuing in Chapter 3, we see His anointing, His coronation. But in highlighting Jesus as Israel’s Divine King, the writer also highlights the divinity of each of the members of the Godhead.

In an effort to try to explain profound divine truths, to limited human minds, pastors, writers, artists, teachers and parents have used analogies, comparisons, stories or reductionist language to explain the nature of the Godhead. The failure in using these means is in the limitation of the vehicle itself. Every one of these is faulty. They each misrepresent or fail to present transcendent biblical truth. The effects of each effort are represented in heresies throughout Church history. As we study the biblical presentations of the Triunity of the Godhead we see the only true and accurate explanations of the nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

In Matthew 3:13-17, we see the true annunciation of each of the members of the Godhead. They are shown as being distinguished but not separated. As clearly as in any passage in Scripture we see here the revelation and the working of the Trinity-the Son, the Spirit, and the Father. We see them as distinct persons, yet acting in complete harmony. “The Triune God” is shown in the 1) Baptism of the Son(Matthew 3:13-15), 2) Anointing of the Spirit(Matthew 3:16), and the 3) Confirmation by the Father  (Matthew 3:17).

 

The Triune God” is shown in the:

1)      Baptism of the Son (Matthew 3:13-15)

Matthew 3:13-1513 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented (ESV)

We will first look at some of the details of the baptism and then at its significance. We are not told the exact time to which the then refers, and Matthew no doubt uses the term simply to show the general sequence of events. We cannot say how well John knew Jesus at this time. He certainly knew of Jesus. Their mothers were relatives, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, had visited John’s mother, Elizabeth, before John and Jesus were born. There is no biblical record of any contact between Jesus and John during the next 30 years. John tells us, “I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:33, 34).( Albrecht, G. J., & Albrecht, M. J. (1996). Matthew (pp. 41–42). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.)Jesus has spent his nearly three decades of earthly lifein quiet obscurity. Galilee was the backwater of Israel, so Matthew’s choice of wording here implies a “coming out,” and a readiness to begin public ministry (Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 39). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).

  • Think about this situation. The Messiah has spent thirty years in the carpenter shop. He has seen sin, death and disease, and He knows he can do something about it. The Father has seen the perfection of His life and now His timing calls for the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry.
  • How long do we wait for God’s timing? We see a need, perhaps the salvation of a loved one, or someone in pain and suffering and ask God: “how long”? God’s timing is not our timing. His timing is perfect and there is often preparatory work on our part, in waiting for that timing.

Definition: Being first introduced here to the Son, how can we understand the relationship between the members of the Godhead? Each person of the Trinity (also known as the Godhead) possesses the entire simple (undivided) essence of God. This fact means that the three persons, though distinct from one another, are coequal in every perfection of the divine essence…Because each of the three persons of the Trinity equally possess the full, undivided divine essence and are thus equally God, the question arises as to how these persons may be distinguished from one another. The best answer is to turn to Scripture itself and note that the most common way the persons of the Trinity are spoken of are as “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit.” These designations, also called the modes of subsistence, reveal the personal properties that distinguish each member of the Trinity from the others (MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R. (Eds.). (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (p. 191). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.)

We know from the parallel passage in Luke that when Jesus came/arrived from Galilee to/at the Jordan, He did not come for a private ceremony: “Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized” (Luke 3:21). Arrived is from paraginomai, which, as we saw in relation to the magi (2:1) and John the Baptist (“came,” 3:1), was often used to indicate an official arrival or public appearance. We learn from Mark 1:9 that Jesus not only came from Galilee, but specifically from Nazareth, when He came to see John. It is clear from all the gospel accounts (cf. Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21; John 1:29) that Jesus came alone. No family members or friends accompanied Him, and He had as yet called no disciples. We do not know exactly where on the Jordan River John was then baptizing, though it seems likely it was toward the southern end, and therefore near Jericho and the Dead Sea. John tells us that it was nearBethany beyond the Jordan” (John 1:28), but the precise location of that town is uncertain.

Jesus came to John specifically to be baptized by him, as indicated by the aorist passive infinitive (baptisthēnai), which emphasizes purpose. Christ came not by chance or accident to be baptized. He came purposely to be baptized. God’s work should not be done aimlessly or carelessly but with a planned design. If you will keep the goal, the purpose, and the aim of your work in your mind, you will accomplish what God intends you to accomplish (Butler, J. G. (2008). Analytical Bible Expositor: Matthew (p. 47). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.).

But the idea of Jesus’ being baptized by him was unthinkable to John. He not only knew Jesus’ human identity but His divine identity. Jesus was born the Son of God (Luke 1:32, 35) and was called “ ‘Immanuel,’ which translated means ‘God with us,’ ” even before His birth (Matt. 1:23). John knew that his baptism for repentance from sin was totally inappropriate for Jesus. John acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Why should the One who takes away sin submit Himself to a ceremony that represents confession and repentance of sin?Jesus might well have been up there in front standing with John and calling on sinners to repent. Instead he was down there with the sinners, affirming his solidarity with them, making himself one with them in the process of the salvation that he would in due course accomplish.(Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 65). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.)

It was because John the Baptist was fully aware of Jesus’ deity and sinlessness that John, according to verse 14, would have prevented him/tried to prevent Him. The Greek verb is in the imperfect tense (diekōluen) and suggests a continued effort by John-“he kept trying to prevent Him.” The verb is also a compound, whose prepositional prefix (dia) intensifies it.

The pronouns in John’s statement are all emphatic, giving evidence of his bewilderment. I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? He did not directly contradict Jesus, as Peter would do (Matt. 16:22), but he thought that somehow he surely misunderstood what Jesus intended, that He could not possibly mean what He seemed to be saying. John’s protesting of the baptism reminds us that whenever the work of God moves ahead, there will be a conflict with someone or something. Opposition will always be present; and sometimes, as here, it will come from surprising sources. (Butler, J. G. (2008). Analytical Bible Expositor: Matthew (pp. 47–48). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.)

The apostle John tells us that John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:29). John knew that this was God’s own anointed Messiah, come to fulfill God’s redemptive purpose. The Baptist’s first reaction to Jesus’ request for baptism was I need to be baptized by You. It is not difficult to understand John’s concern. His baptism was for confession of sin and repentance(3:2, 6, 11), of which he himself had need; but Jesus had no sins to confess or be forgiven of. John’s baptism was for those who turned from their sin and thereby became fit for the arrival of the great King. Why, then, would the sinless King Himself want to be baptized? John’s attempt to prevent Jesus from being baptized is therefore a testimony to Jesus’ sinlessness. This prophet, of whom the Lord Himself said there had “not arisen anyone greater” (Matt. 11:11), knew that he himself was not sinless. I need to be baptized by You, he told Jesus, and do You come to me? I am only a prophet of God,” John was saying, “and I am sinful like everyone whom I baptize. But You are the Son of God and sinless. You are not a sinner. Why, then, do you ask me to baptize You?” Among John’s many God-given insights into who Jesus was, what He was like, and what He had come to do, was his knowledge that the One who now stood before Him was without sin. In a less direct but yet definite way, John declared with the writer of Hebrews that Jesus, though “tempted in all things as we are, [is] yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). So even in his reluctance to baptize Christ, John was fulfilling the role of a herald and the office of a prophet by proclaiming the perfection of the Savior. Earlier John had difficulty baptizing the Pharisees and Sadducees because they were not worthy of his baptism. Now he has trouble baptizing Jesus because his baptism is not worthy of Jesus (Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 107). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).

In verse 15 see that Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now/Permit it at this time; for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness. These are words of royal dignity and humility. Jesus did not deny that He was spiritually superior to John or that He was sinless. Let it be so now/Permit it at this time was an idiom meaning that the act of His baptism, though not seemingly appropriate, was indeed appropriate for this special time. Jesus understood John’s reluctance and knew that it came from deep spiritual commitment and sincerity. He gave permission for John to do what, without divine instruction, he would never have been willing to do. He assured the prophet that “thus/in this way it is fitting, and went on to explain to John that His baptism was important for both of their ministries, for us to fulfill all righteousness. For God’s plan to be perfectly fulfilled, it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized and to be baptized specifically by John.  Fulfilis used mainly of Jesus’ relation to the predictions and patterns of the Old Testament (cf. 5:17); a paraphrase such as ‘bring to reality’ or ‘accomplish’ indicates its essential meaning for Matthew (France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, p. 99). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)

Please turn to Isaiah 53 (p.614)

Jesus came into the world to identify with humanity; and to identify with humanity is to identify with sin. He could not purchase righteousness for His people if He did not identify with humanity’s sin. Hundreds of years before Christ’s coming, Isaiah had declared of the Messiah:

Isaiah 53:10-12 10       Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (ESV)

  • Jesus’ baptism also represented the willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save.
  • Humanity of Jesus

That was the first act of His ministry, the first step in the redemptive plan that He came to fulfill. He who had no sin took His place among those who had no righteousness. He who was without sin submitted to a baptism for sinners. In this act the Savior took His place among the sinners of the world. The sinless Friend of sinners was sent by the Father “in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3); and He “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him(2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Isa. 53:11). There was no other way to fulfill all righteousness. He has previously fulfilled specific prophecies as well as more general scriptural themes. Now he wishes to obey all the moral demands of God’s will.To fulfill all righteousnessmeans to complete everything that forms part of a relationship of obedience to God. (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 81). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Levitical law required that a sacrifice be identified with the sacrificer(Lev. 1:4). Christ was being identified with John, the ministry, and the believing remnant as the sacrifice that would be offered for the remnant (Isa. 53:6; Matt. 20:28; 2 Cor. 5:21). The sinless One identified Himself with sinners (Robertson, A. K. (1983). Matthew (p. 29). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.).

Though John, having been given such a brief explanation, could not possibly have comprehended the full meaning of Jesus’ baptism, he accepted His Lord’s word and obeyed. Then he consented/permitted Him.  Ultimately John’s baptism pointed to Jesus, for only Jesus’ death on a cross, which He called a “baptism” (Luke 12:50), could take away sins. Jesus’ identification with His people included His baptism and death (Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). The Reformation study Bible: bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture: New King James Version (Mt 3:13). Nashville: T. Nelson.)

Illustrations. The Trinity has no perfect analogies in human experience. Theologians have attempted to find a perfect illustration of the Trinity, but all these attempts have either divided the essence, compromised the distinction between the three persons, or lost sight of God’s personal essence. No illustration can fully communicate the Trinity, because the Trinity is God and always transcends the created order in essence, persons, and relationships…By understanding that the Trinity is not like the three states of H2O (ice, water, vapor), the student learns to reject modalism. By learning that the Trinity is not like the three leaves of a single clover, he eschews partialism. By grasping that the Trinity is not like the light and heat emanating from the sun, he disclaims Arianism.( MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R. (Eds.). (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (p. 193). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.)

Augustine, while puzzling over the doctrine of the Trinity, was walking along the beach one day when he observed a young boy with a bucket, running back and forth to pour water into a little hole. Augustine asked, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “I’m trying to put the ocean into this hole.” Then Augustine realized that he had been trying to put an infinite God into his finite mind.( Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 389). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)

 “The Triune God” is shown in the:

2)      Anointing of the Spirit(Matthew 3:16)

Matthew 3:1616 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; (ESV)

John’s baptism, and that of Jesus’ disciples during His earthly ministry (John 4:1–2), represented cleansing, or washing, from sin. Christian baptism represents the believer’s identification with Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). In both cases the significance of the act is lost if it does not involve immersion. Sprinkling or pouring does not fit either the symbolism of cleansing or of dying and being raised. The Greek word itself for “baptized” (baptizō) means literally to dip an object into water or other liquid, not to have the liquid put on the object (cf. Lk. 16:24; Jn. 13:26). The Christian church knew no form of baptism but immersion until the Middle Ages, when the practice of sprinkling or pouring was introduced by the Roman Catholic church-which itself had previously always baptized by immersion. The great Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) said, “In immersion the setting forth of the burial of Christ is more plainly expressed, in which this manner of baptizing is more commendable.” The Catholic church did not recognize other modes until the Council of Ravenna, held in France in 1311. It was from the Catholic church that Lutheran and Reformed churches inherited the form of sprinkling or pouring. The Church of England did not begin the practice of sprinkling until 1645. The Eastern Orthodox church has never permitted any mode but immersion.

That Jesus “immediately he went up from the water” indicates that He had been all the way into the water. John was baptizing in the Jordan (Mt. 3:6), and his custom was to baptize where “there was much water” (John 3:23), which would have been pointless if only sprinkling were used (cf. Acts 8:38–39).

At the moment Jesus came out of the river, behold, the heavens were opened. When Ezekiel saw the heavens opened and had the vision of God, he saw such things as the four living creatures, the chariot, and the wheels (Ezek. 1:1–19). Just before he died, Stephen saw “the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56), and John the apostle had several heavenly visions (Rev. 4:1; 11:19; 19:11).

When the heavens opened before John the Baptist, he saw the Spirit of God descending like/as a dove, and coming to rest/upon Him, just as the Lord had promised (John 1:33). The confirming sign was that of a dove, the only instance in which the Holy Spirit was ever so represented. To the Jewish mind of that day the dove was associated with sacrifice. Bullocks were sacrificed by the rich and lambs by the middle class, but most of the people were poor and could only afford a dove. Yet in a broader way, God was anointing Christ with the Holy Spirit to empower Him for His work (Isa. 11:2; 61:1). The coming of the Spirit in the form of a dove suggests that Christ’s work involved gentleness (10:16), sorrow (Isa. 38:14; 59:11), and new creation (Gen. 1:2; 8:10).( Beeke, J. R., Barrett, M. P. V., & Bilkes, G. M. (Eds.). (2014). The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (p. 1359). Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books.)

Please turn to Isaiah 61 (p.620)

Why did the Holy Spirit coming to rest/upon Jesus? When He became a man, Jesus did not lose His divinity. He was still fully God in every way. In His deity He needed nothing. But in His humanity He was here being anointed for service and granted strength for ministry.

The Spirit anointed Him for His kingly service, as Isaiah had predicted:

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. (ESV)

  • Here we see the speaker is the messianic servant, who creates a new people by his Spirit-empowered preaching (cf. 11:2; 59:21). Isaiah explains the goal of Messiah’s anointing with seven purpose clauses, which Jesus Himself in His sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5) explains: Blessed are the poor in spirt, for theirs is the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3). He proclaims liberty to those who are in bondage to sin (Lev. 25:10), Through the Spirit’s anointing, the opening of the prison represents spiritual freedom from the oppression of sin and Satan. Finally, in His Inaugurating the Kingdom of God, the year of the Lord’s favor, seen in in the Holy Spirit residing in the saints after Christ’s resurrection, this inaugurates a new era of blessing (cf. Isa. 34:8; 63:4; 2 Cor. 6:2). Quoting this text in Nazareth (Luke 4:18–19), Jesus did not include and the day of vengeance of our God because the display of his wrath awaits Christ’s second coming (cf. Isa. 5:25–29; 63:1–6; Acts 17:31; Rev. 6:15–17). (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1352). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.)

Among other things, the Spirit of God was “coming to rest on” Jesus that empowered Him to cast out demons (Matt. 12:28), to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:22), and to preach (cf. Acts 10:38). Like every human being, Jesus became tired and hungry and sleepy. His humanness needed strengthening, and that needed strength was given by the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:14). Jesus’ anointing with the Holy Spirit was unique. It was given to empower Him in His humanness, but it was also given as a visible, confirming sign to John the Baptist and to everyone else watching. Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the great King whose coming the Lord had called John to announce and to prepare people for.  The virginal conception of Jesus was by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20). The mission of Jesus is to be understood in terms of Jesus’ baptizing his people with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11). And now, the Spirit-filled Jesus, who will impart the Spirit to others, receives the Holy Spirit himself in a fresh anointing that marks both the commencement of his public ministry and the Father’s equipping of Jesus for that ministry (Campbell, I. D. (2008). Opening up Matthew (pp. 33–34). Leominster: Day One Publications.).

Illustration: Dwight L. Moody’s conversion cannot be compared with this magnificent moment in the life of Christ, but the language with which Moody describes it makes it pertinent here. Moody was a shoe salesman when Edward Kimball, a teacher in the Mt. Vernon Congregational Church Sunday School, placed his hand on his shoulder as Moody was wrapping a package of shoes. He said:  “Dwight, don’t you think it is about time you gave your heart to the Lord?Reminiscing about his acceptance of Kimball’s challenge forty years later, Moody wrote: I remember the morning on which I came out of my room after I had first trusted Christ. I thought the old sun shone a good deal brighter than it ever had before—I thought that it was just smiling upon me; and as I walked out upon Boston Common, and heard the birds singing in the trees, I thought they were all singing a song for me. Do you know I fell in love with the birds? I had never cared for them before. It seemed to me that I was in love with all creation. I had not a bitter feeling against any man, and I was ready to take all mankind to my heart. Many Christians can offer the same testimony. What God did for Christ in the Spirit and the voice, He does for us. The Spirit has been promised (Acts 2:38), and His entire published Word assures us that when we are obedient in faith, repentance, and (evident in acts of obedience like) baptism, we are His children, too (Romans 6:1–10; 5:1, 2; Luke 15:7, 10).( Lawson, L. (1986). Matthew: Unlocking the Scriptures for You (p. 36). Cincinnati, OH: Standard.)

 

Finally, The Triune God” is shown in the:

3)         Confirmation by the Father

Matthew 3:1717 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESV)

The final aspect of Jesus’ coronation, or commissioning, was the Father’s confirming word. Only three times in the New Testament is the audible voice of God heard, and on every one of those occasions that voice is testifying to Christ. People claim to have heard the voice of God telling them to do all kinds of things, but God does not speak audibly today, and He did it so rarely in the New Testament that He reserved those audible declarations for occasions such as this (Sproul, R. C. (2013). Matthew (p. 48). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.).

For a sacrifice to be acceptable to God it must be pure, spotless, without blemish (Ex. 12:5; Lev. 1:3; Deut. 17:1; etc.). Of this One who willingly identified Himself with sinners by His baptism and who was marked by the Holy Spirit as the dove of sacrifice, the Father now said, This is My beloved Son, with/in whom I am well-pleased. No Old Testament sacrifice, no matter how carefully selected, had ever been truly pleasing to God. It was not possible to find an animal that did not have some blemish, some imperfection. Not only that, but the blood of those animals was at best only symbolic, “for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4; cf. 9:12). But the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross would be “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:19). Thus God could say He was well-pleased with the perfection of Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 17:5; John 12:28, where God repeats this superlative commendation). God had been silent for over 400 years, since the close of the O.T. God’s voice from heaven identifying Jesus as His Son is the public announcement that He is about to act and the Messianic Age is about to dawn.( Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 604). Wheaton: Victor Books.)

Please turn to Hebrews 1 (p.1001)

 

That Jesus was the Father’s beloved Son (agapētos) connotes a deep, rich, and profound relationship. It is used here of the Father’s great love for His Son, but it is also used elsewhere of His love for believers (Rom. 1:7) and for what believers’ love toward each other should be (1 Cor. 4:14). The fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is central to the gospel. In no passage is that made more clear than in Hebrews 1:1–8:

Hebrews 1:1–9: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” (ESV)

  • Jesus Christ is the fullest expression of God the Father, superior to and exalted above everything and everyone else. He is the beginning of all things, Creator; the middle of all things, Sustainer and Purifier; and the end of all things, Heir (see also Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:16). The Son is the manifestation of God, the radiance of God’s personal glory, the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4). In Him all deity dwells (Col. 1:15–19; 2:9). Because of His deity, He is superior to the angels who worship Him. (cf. John MacAthur.  Hebrews [Chicago: Moody Press, 1983], pp. 27–29.) Even God’s title as Father is a reference to His essential relationship to Jesus Christ. God the Father is presented in the New Testament more as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:27; John 5:17–18; 10:29–33; 14:6–11; 17:1–5; Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3, 17; Phil. 2:9–11; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2 John 3) than as the Father of believers (Matt. 6:9). When Jesus called God “Father,” He was not emphasizing primarily submission or generation but sameness of essence-that is, deity. John 5:23 sums it up by demanding “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” No one can worship God unless he worships Him as the God who is one with King Jesus-“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus is the Father’s beloved above all those He loves, the beloved apart from whom no other could ever be beloved (cf. Eph. 1:6). Only in His Son could the Father ever be fully well-pleased (eudokeō). God had examined, as it were, His beloved Son, who would offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of those with whom He was willing to identify Himself. No imperfection could be found in Him, and God was delighted.

  • As believers, we too are a delight to the Father, because we are now in the Son. Because the Father finds no imperfection in His Son, He now by His grace, positionally before Him, finds no imperfection in those who trust in Him (cf. Rom 3:26; 5:17, 21; Gal. 2:20; 3:27; Eph. 1:3–6; etc.). Do we end the examination of these events like the Father does? Do you love Jesus? And are you well pleased with him? The Father certainly is; that is what these words state clearly. If the Father is pleased with Jesus, shouldn’t you be? If you are not, you are far from being a true Christian. If you are, surely you will want to follow Jesus in faithful obedience and point others to him, as John the Baptist did(Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (p. 51). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.).

 (Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 73–83). Chicago: Moody Press.)

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