Scripture: You are my Son, the Beloved.  With You I am well pleased. ~ Mark 1:11

Theological Thought: There is a lot of apocalyptic imagery around Jesus’ baptism. The Heavens being TORN apart goes all the way back to the flood narrative and the destruction that left behind.  However, it is important to note that while Jesus is coming from the Father to fulfill prophecies and usher in a new age, His introduction from the father is not “here is my chosen” it is not “The Lord is with you mighty warrior” nor anything might suggest Jesus comes in power.  Instead it is an announcement of a loving relationship.

Reflection:  When the heavens tear apart and God speaks to Jesus in Mark 1, it always strikes me as significant that (at least in the context of Mark) Jesus hasn’t really done anything.  Even if you take examples from the Gospel of Luke from when Jesus was a child (pre-baptism) Jesus doesn’t really do anything exceptional – there are no healing miracles, there is no great prayer or teaching.  Jesus is just a kid doing things that kids do.  This is tough for me to understand.  Not because I find it difficult to understand that the Father loves Jesus unconditionally, but because this represents God’s love for me as well: it is unconditional.  I don’t have to do anything for the Father to say “You are my child, my beloved.  With you I am well pleased.”  I see this also in the parable of the lost sons in the older brother who is working so hard to get his father’s approval but the father says “You are always with me.”  (luke 15)  It makes me wonder if I really understand how God loves me.  I mean do I really understand it deep in my gut, or am I still convinced I have to earn it?  If I’m honest with myself, and I mean really brutally honest about it, the answer is that I am very much the older son.  I love my Father and I am working as hard as I can not only to prove it, but to get that accolade, that pat on the back and the love i think comes with it.  The truth however, the truth that God reveals to me in Mark 1:11, is that God loves me.  Period. No strings attached.  Nothing I can do to change it.  And the really crazy part?  I can’t possibly earn something that I already have.cut out

Prayer: Father you made me. You hold my life you provide and all this shows me how you love me.  I pray that you would open my eyes to better see and understand all the ways in which you love me – that this reality would impact my life, soften my heart.  Show me how I can see myself with the love you have for me.

 Practice: Have a date with Jesus.  Or with the Father if you prefer.  Set a time and  place free from distraction and just Be with your Lord.  Don’t journal, don’t pray or intercede for others.  Don’t go into it with any kind of agenda at all.  Let go of the need to do anything at all and just show up.  Settle in for some down time with your first love.