Luke 3:21-22 (CEV)
21 While everyone else was being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. Then as he prayed, the sky opened up, 22 and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.”
My Own Son
Have you ever wondered what God looked like? Lots of people want to tell us who God is, what makes Him happy or sad, angry or pleased. Religious leaders the world over have a view of God they want you to subscribe to. Individuals go around acting on assumptions of God’s character all the time. But have you ever wondered if it’s possible to actually know what God looked like?
My eldest child is incredibly like their dad. They’ve got my colouring, and bits of my features, but across bone structure, eating patterns, thinking patterns, interests, sense of humor, passions, values, gifts, this child is uncannily like their dad. So much so that if you had only ever met this child and I told you to take who they were and wrap it up into the form of a 40 year old man, then you’d have a pretty good idea of who their dad was.
When Paul is writing about Jesus in the book of Colossians later on in the New Testament he tells us that Jesus is “exactly like God, who cannot be seen” and goes on to say that “God himself was pleased to live fully in his son.” (Colossians 1:15, 19) And so here we have Jesus, being baptized by John, and God shows up physically as the Holy Spirit in the sign of a dove, and audibly as the Father with a voice that says “this is my own son”.
So here’s the only possible conclusion. If we want to know what God looks like, if we want to know what makes him happy or sad, angry or pleased, then the best thing we can do is to watch Jesus, learn from Jesus, observe the character of Jesus, and in doing so, we’re going to learn who God is.
It turns out that even though we might not get everything, it’s actually possible for us to get to know God through Jesus.Journal Questions:
I’m going to keep coming back to these ideas, but if you’re particularly interested in getting to know the character of God through the book of Luke, I encourage you to write down the following questions, and ask them to yourself for each passage we read:
- Who does Jesus meet in this passage? If you could have talked to this person at the end of their meeting with Jesus, who would they have said he was?
- What does Jesus do in this passage? If you looked just at his actions, who would you say Jesus was?
- Who does Jesus say he is in this passage?
- If all you had was this passage, who would you say Jesus was?
As we go through the book, you might want to go back through your answers to these questions periodically, and you should find that you start to build up a “picture” of who Jesus, and therefore, who God is.
To help yourself see what you’ve learned over the year, take some time today to write out your answer to the question: who would you say that Jesus is? You may be very interested to see how this understanding of Jesus changes over the course of this study.
For those of you looking for an intellectual challenge, this verse is one of the references to the Trinity in the New Testament, so I thought I might mention a book on my reading list: Richard Rohr’s new book on the Trinity called ‘The Divine Dance’. If you’re looking for a really deep think about the nature of God and the Trinity, this book looks to be fantastic!