Luke tells us that when Jesus was baptised he saw the heavens were opened with the outcome that the Spirit descended on him from there and the Father spoke to him from there. Whatever else this opening tells us, it tells us that heaven is very near. It is similar to the Ascension of Jesus when his followers saw Jesus enter heaven, and here Jesus sees the Spirit descending from heaven and hears the Father speak from heaven.
The words of the Father are full of affection for his dear Son. We are told elsewhere in the New Testament that God is love. What is love in its fullness? The answer is God. All of us have tasted love to some extent, but here we are considering a love that is very different. What can we say about the love of the Father for his Son? Here are some aspects of it.
First, we know that the love of the Father is eternal in that it never had a beginning. Before there was anything created, the Father loved his Son. Second, the love of the Father for his Son was extensive in the sense that it could not increase. His love was always fully there for his Son. Third, the love of the Father for his Son was energetic in that it was conveyed to him with divine power – maybe that is the point of the heavens being torn open. Fourth, the love of the Father for his Son is connected to the engagement that they had agreed concerning us. Jesus said in John 10:17: ‘For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.’ So we should not be surprised at what the Father expresses for his Son.
Second, the words of the Father are full of admiration of his dear Son. We can see how they are a divine affirmation of the so-called ‘thirty silent years’ when Jesus was living in Nazareth, where he worked as a carpenter, where he participated in the synagogue, where he lived with his parents and brothers and sisters. Those years were years of perfect obedience, and that obedience brought great pleasure to the Father as Jesus fulfilled the law and made it honourable. The obedience was also performed on behalf of his people in order that it could be imputed to them.
Of course, the obedience while perfect so far had not yet been completed. And the Father’s admiration would have been connected to what lay ahead as well as to what had passed. Facing Jesus were three years of further obedience to the Father’s will, and towards the close he would endure the cross. And he obeyed it all perfectly. We should not be surprised at how God the Father spoke at the baptism of his Son.