In this week’s blog we take a look at God the Father’s love for his son and how as God’s children, he loves us simply because he created us.
There are only two occasions in the Gospels when God the Father is heard to speak in a direct way. One is at the baptism of Jesus, the other at his transfiguration. Matthew gives accounts of both occasions.
The Baptism : Matthew 3: 13 – 17
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. 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 alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
The Transfiguration: Matthew 17: 1 – 7
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
On both these occasions what the Father has to say is simple and very direct. ‘This is my son, whom I love’.
When we have to describe our own qualities, at a job interview for example, we may be boastful. Or we may joke around, aware of our own shortcomings. When we describe the qualities of someone we love, we may be tempted to use heartfelt language.
But the Father doesn’t do that. He doesn’t say of Jesus ‘This is my son. He is really incredible. Did you see the way he walked on water?’ Or ‘This is my son, he goes round healing lepers. Isn’t he compassionate?’ Or anything like that.
God the Father is simple and direct. This is my son. I love him.
In our relationship with God there is often the feeling that we aren’t really worthy of his love. We have to justify ourselves. We have to prove to God that we are good enough.
But that’s not the case. We are all God’s children, his sons and daughters. And he loves us, because he created us to be loved by him. Hard as it may sometimes seem, God loves us as we are.
Our response to God’s unequivocal and extravagant love for us may be summed up in the 19th century hymn, made popular in the second half of the 20th century by Billy Graham:
Just as I am – without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
-O Lamb of God, I come!
Ian Watt has been volunteering for the YMCA since April 2017. A Benedictine monk for 12 years, he is currently attached to the Oratory of the Good Shepherd, a dispersed Anglican community. He likes old churches, Anglican choral music and the history of Late Antiquity (roughly 3rd to 6th centuries).