God the Father is Speaking to YOU!
God the Father speaks to His people many times throughout the Old Testament. His conversations often involve one of His chosen covenant mediators, like Noah, or Abraham. But there is a significant turn when God gives His people the Ten Commandments. These are literally God’s Ten “Words” as this is the first time in all of Scripture that God is speaking directly to His people, and not through a mediator. Nevertheless, be it through a selected person or prophet or to the entire faithful, God the Father regularly addresses His people in the Old Testament.
Contrast that with the Gospels. Obviously, the Gospels focus mainly on Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection, but we still would expect some words to come from God the Father. Not only that, we know Christ to be the Incarnate Word of God, and so in a sense, all of Christ’s life can be seen as a dialogue with the Father. Nevertheless, there are only two instances where we hear directly from God the Father in the Gospels. And this message is so important, that each of these instances can be found in each of the Synoptic Gospels. His message is essentially the same both times and this message speaks volumes for our own identity as beloved sons of God the Father.
The first time we hear the Father speak in the Gospels occurs at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan by John. After Jesus is baptized, “a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”” (Mark 1:11). As Jesus is being commissioned and publically sent out on His mission, we see the Father affirming His identity, His Beloved Sonship. Not only do His words affirm his belonging to the Father, God the Father further adds that He is “well pleased” with Christ. How often, in our own lives, do we desire not only the attention and affirmation of others, but we desire to hear specifically what others think of us? Maybe, it’s also the desire to hear this from our own earthly fathers. And how crucial it is to us to hear these words as we begin difficult, treacherous, and challenging endeavors! Just look at the timing of these words spoken by God the Father to His Son. These words come at the outset of his Public Ministry. Not only that, what event occurs immediately after His baptism: the temptation by the Devil in the desert. Think about it, if God the Father desired to have Jesus hear these words before He entered into terrible trials, what might God the Father desire you to hear as you walk through the challenges of life?
The second time we hear the Father speak is at the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. Again, the message is much the same: “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”” (Mark 9:7). Before, where we heard “with you I am well pleased,” we now get the imperative “listen to him”. The affirming words show up again before Christ begins another difficult aspect of His ministry. As Christ descends this mountain after the Transfiguration, He will be journeying closer and closer to the Cross. It’s these words which fuel Him, and which most likely served as words to meditate upon while in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is something interesting about the phrase “listen to him.” Perhaps it serves as another reminder for Christ of His authority, the authority that has been given to Him by God the Father. There’s confidence instilled in Christ, especially as He prepares for His Passion. But even more so, there is a connection between the baptism of Jesus and this Transfiguration. As we are baptized, we die with Christ, only to rise again to new life. In the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John catch a glimpse of what this new life in Christ looks like: a foretaste of the Heavenly realities each of us are promised if we die to ourselves and live on in Christ. At our baptism, we are adopted into God’s family as His beloved son. And because of this, each of us has a place assigned to us in the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe the words, “listen to him” are further reinforcement of this truth: that we are beloved sons and God cares for us each intimately and desires to be united with us eternally in Heaven.
There is much we can expand upon, pray with, and consider in these instances, but suffice it to say at least for today that what God the Father wants us to know most is the fact that He affirms our identity as being beloved sons of Him, God Our Loving Father. He cares more about us listening to this message than with moral teachings, laws, or complicated theology. The fundamental message of God the Father is affirmation first and foremost that His Son is loved, and each and every single one of us on account of our baptism are so loved as well.
Too much today our identities are under attack. We think we aren’t “man” enough. We try to put on a display of something we are not. We worry about how others will perceive us because we are afraid of being vulnerable. We’re afraid that we aren’t in fact loved by the Father, and if we think we aren’t loved by the Father, how would we ever expect to receive love and affirmation from others? We go off and try to find this identity and affirmation of that identity in all the wrong places. We turn to sexuality and make that our source and summit of who we are. We turn to money, our jobs, our success and pull from that our very essence, our very being. We look at our circle of friends or our fame and glory and hope that this will satisfy our desire to be known and loved. Each and every single one of these false identities can be and will be called into question, attacked, and ridiculed. When this happens, we feel lost, unstable, and unsure of who we are. But, all of these things are not the core of who we are or from where we get our source of being. There is only one source. And that source can never be stripped from us, never be taken away, never called into question. For this source was, is, and always will be. This source is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing can separate us from the God who loves us. This is who God is and this is who we are. God the Father cares so much about us knowing this, He takes the only two times He speaks in all of the Gospels to proclaim this to us. If it is so important to Him, it ought to be as important to us. Stop and take a moment today to consider just how much God the Father loves you and how much He wants you to know that.
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8: 38-39
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