In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Luke 3:21-23
When others were being baptized in the Jordan River, the thirty-year-old Jesus was also coming to be baptized. This was yet another powerful example of his outstretched arms of love. Here, Jesus willingly joins the larger group of those coming to the waters of baptism and submits his heart into the hands of the baptizer, and ultimately into the loving hands of God.
As he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.”
The Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in unity of purpose and love, each fulfilling unique but completely integrated purposes with one another. The Spirit appears in the form of a dove, a tangible expression of the significance of this event for the Son of God and all who would witness this event. The Father gives voice to his affection for Jesus, clearly announced from heaven for all to hear. Three key messages emerge in this grand sentiment: first of all, Jesus’ relationship with the Father as his Son; secondly, a declarative pronouncement of love; and thirdly, an affirmation of delightfully great pleasure.
The mission and ministry of Jesus is officially coming to fruition. His younger years with his family and among his community were preparing for this event and his forthcoming service to others. Here in the waters of baptism God is announcing from heaven that Jesus is now moving intentionally into relationships, worship and service, all of which will declare the Kingdom of heaven. This was a defining moment, an inflection point for Jesus, which would eventually be looked back upon as significant.
By far, the high point of his baptism is the Father’s declaration of his belovedness as a son. This status was of central importance to all who would eventually call upon him as Savior and Lord. His beloved place in the wide-open arms of the Father would be a continual reflection from Jesus to all who cross his path. Gracious, unconditional love would become the centerpiece of his message, his mission, and his ministry moving forward to the cross.
Can you recognize today how dearly God loves you as his child? Can you acknowledge the outstretched arms of love extended to you each moment of the day? Can you recall the many ways the love of Jesus has been your mainstay, the music in your ears, and the meaning of your with God life? Can you point out to others the outstretched loving arms of grace, mercy, forgiveness, joy and love offered by Jesus?
Behold Jesus in the river of gladness and salvation; believe the Gospel of unconditional love; belong today to the family of God who are being loved into the Kingdom; and become so filled up with love that you can’t help but freely and generously share Jesus’ love with all who will cross your path even today.