THE VOICE FROM HEAVEN
During this season of a pandemic, we have become accustomed to the sound of many voices. From every side, we hear voices telling us what we need to do and what we should not do to stay safe. The message is changed from day to day, from one newscast to the next. As we try to follow one set of instructions, we hear another voice telling us something different. Just who or what do we believe? Can we be sure of the validity of the views? Can we trust it?
Let's consider the following Scripture as we think about the voice of the one who can be trusted: "Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected, ‘I'm the one who needs to be baptized, not you!’ But Jesus insisted. ‘Do it. God's work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.’ So, John did. The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened, and he saw God's Spirit - it looked like a dove - descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: ‘This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.'" (Matthew 3:13-17, The Message)
Jesus' baptism was "from heaven." In other words, it was a miraculous moment of divine intervention. I believe that the good things that come into our lives come "from heaven." In the believer's life, faith, grace, salvation, understanding, truth, comfort, and the Christian life itself come "from heaven," as a miraculous act of our God who cares enough about us to come to us.
God, in the human form of Jesus, came to us at Bethlehem as a baby. In the passages from Matthew, Jesus came to us thirty years later as the anointed baptized Teacher and Example. He came to us three years later on the cross as the sacrifice and Savior of His people. Jesus left this earth, but He sent His Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to comfort, guide, and to continue to teach and reveal himself to us. And He will return to claim His kingdom and His people.
God has always wanted to be close to us. In Genesis, God came down to earth and walked with Adam and Eve. God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, "I'll live right there with them. I'll be their God! They'll be my people!" (37:27, The Message) And we hear in the book of Revelation that same voice as we heard from the Matthew story and before, "I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: 'Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God.'" God has always moved toward His people as, Immanuel, "God with us."
There is a divine relationship between Jesus' baptism and ours, between his ministry and ours, between the voice from heaven that Jesus heard long ago and the voice we listen for daily. God speaks today through His Holy Spirit to us, His people, in ways that may be different from that day by the river. But He does speak, and we must listen for His voice.
The story of Jesus' baptism is about Jesus himself and the revelation of Jesus' identity to the Jews, church, and believers from the beginning, and for the rest of the world from that time until today. Yet, it can also be a personal story about each of us. Because you see, we have no way of knowing who Jesus is and how He can change our lives without the gift of revelation. Jesus has to reveal himself to us. Each person of the Trinity has a role in this revelation of who Jesus is as He relates to us as a personal Savior. God the Father speaks the words of affirmation to us through His Holy Spirit. Words like, "You are my loved son, daughter, boy, and girl, and I am pleased with you. But you must always listen to my voice. My voice will be your guide."
This same voice of God can come to us today; the same Spirit of God flowing into the life of Jesus can flow into ours. We all need to hear that compelling voice, experience the dove, and receive a vision. It comes to us at our baptism and faithfully calls to us every day of our journey. At the beginning of our walk with Jesus, the voice comes as a call from a sinful life. Then as we answer that call, the voice comes to guide us in our daily lives, comforting, convicting, encouraging, assuring, and cleansing from all sin. The faithful voice from heaven never leaves the life of a believer who is determined to go on to a mature intimate life with Jesus.
The Spirit's voice was the key to Jesus' life. So, if Jesus is to be our model, our example, the Spirit must be the key to our lives. It must be the Spirit who keeps us from temptation, gives us eternal life, assures us in the face of doubts, and provides holy living. On the last night that Jesus was on earth, He told the disciples that He wanted them and us to have the same one in their lives and our lives who had been in His. The Spirit is Jesus' gift to us. Let's listen to only His voice! It is a voice that is true and trustworthy!
Pastor of Congregational Care
O 828.456.3993 Ext 202