Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 3: 21-22 (MsgB)
After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As He was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on Him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are My Son, chosen and marked by My love, pride of My life.”
The Father’s unconditional blessing.
A physical touch. An audible voice. A blessing, given by God, the Father, not because of what Jesus, the Son, had done, but simply for who He was.
In our world, blessings are all conditional. All based on accomplishment or achievement. If you do x-y-z and do it in the way that satisfies the standards, then you get the blessing. Fail to accomplish the standards and you miss the mark. No blessings today, sorry.
This blessing formula begins to develop early on in our lives. As toddlers, we all learn quickly that when we act according to rules and regulations set by parents or others, we will, in most cases, get rewarded. And, of course, when we don’t act according to those set standards, we forfeit those same rewards. And so it goes. By the time we’re in grade school, the list of conditional blessings begins to run into the hundreds. Eat your vegetables and you’ll get your dessert. Make your bed and you’ll get your allowance. In high school, the list gets larger. Get a good grade on your math test and get the car this weekend. Make the honor roll and we’ll give you the car. Then, it’s onto college and beyond where the blessing curve begins to get downright scary. Screw up on your job and you don’t get the promotion. Bring home a good salary and your spouse will love you. Be a productive member of society and we’ll respect you as a person. Fail once or twice and you’re marked as a loser for life.
No pressure now!
As adults we are so conditioned to conditional blessings, the idea of someone offering us an unconditional blessing, (i.e. one that comes for no apparent reason or without any cost to us) just doesn’t compute in our thinkers. As a matter of fact, when someone actually attempts to give us something that costs us nothing, most of us are so skeptical and unaccustomed to this kind of blessing, we usually go into some type of default mode, believing the generous person to have some sort of ulterior motive behind the action.
Enter the Father Heart of God.
Blessings, which are unconditional. Words of affirmation given freely. An embrace of acceptance with no strings attached.
When we read about the baptism of Jesus, this is exactly what is going on between Father and Son. Keep in mind that at this moment in time, Jesus has not accomplished one God-miracle, nor has He spoken one heavenly word of wisdom. He is not being given this overt attention from God, the Father, because He has accomplished a long shopping list of Kingdom works. Nor is He being honored today because He’s been the perfect child.
Jesus is receiving exactly what God knows every man, woman, and child on the planet truly needs. God’s unconditional love. Holy words of affirmation. A heavenly embrace of God’s acceptance.
I wonder just how many times over the next three years of ministry as times were pretty tough when Jesus returned in his mind and heart to this holy moment in the baptismal waters.
Heaven knows He needed it.
Heaven knows we need it as well!
My prayer: Thank You, God, for the reminder that it’s Your unconditional love that opened the door for Jesus to begin His ministry. It’s this powerful display of the Father Heart of God over Jesus’ life that empowers Him to step into all You had for Him to accomplish. May I, too, be open fully to Your words of affirmation and Your embrace of acceptance. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how have I fallen prey to the world of conditional blessings? How can allow God to break through those conditional patterns I’ve come to accept, bringing the work of His unconditional love and acceptance into my life. As I receive freely His words of affirmation and His embrace of acceptance, how can I pass that unconditional love into the lives of others around me?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?
Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!