There are two instances where The Father, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, says these words at Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration. There is a special essence that transitions into our human psyche when through the wisdom of Almighty God this proclamation becomes the pathway to learning His Plan to share his Love and Life with us.
The Synoptics detail many miracles and parables that set a pattern of the Mission Jesus undertakes to bring Good News to the downtrodden and helpless people He came to save. John’s Gospel presents the role of Jesus in a different manner with signs that Jesus is God, yet the outcome remains the same wherein we have the opportunity to find the way to Almighty God by the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. There is no mystery to the forgiveness God opens to us through His endless Mercy.
What significance do the words “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” portray when only twice they are recorded? There is a providential theme that reaches in a far greater way than just words of this prolific statement. The stage is set and what follows becomes more than a proclamation, it opens for us a theological imprint on two very important events.
At His baptism, Jesus prepares for the most significant step into a journey that sometimes can parallel our own sojourn into the unknown. He is ready for the encounter he must undergo. Think, for a moment, after we have been prepared for a next step in our chosen vocation the anxiety or trepidation that may confront us. Without having a crystal ball about events we will face the unknown will soon reveal the future. Will we be ready to undergo our future?
Imagine being in the position that found Jesus, after fasting for 40 days, confronted with temptations, unlike ours, but nevertheless deep and abiding. The temptations reached into his very soul to find comfort and ease not just from the fasting, but to reject and counter the scourge of attractions which soon would follow. Ours will be easier than those Satan will present to Jesus.
Temptations for us reach by reactions to pleasure, power, and greed. Those of Jesus touched His very Divinity, not for bread or drink, but to turn from His Father and worship the one who has power on earth. At this point, the Grace of Baptism wasn’t needed for Jesus, but if he would have failed, the waters of baptism would never have become the grace for all humanity. Think your encounter with the unknown in your chosen vocation is hard? Remember Jesus was true man and true God. Yet, the temptations by Satan were directed more against the Son of God than meeting human needs.
Don’t forget, as Paul said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities” Eph. 6:12). Hence, the temptations of Jesus already become the significance from forces of evil.
Satan leaves Jesus to only return at His Passion for one last try to discourage the Son of God, in his last attempt to defeat Almighty God, but for all eternity will not. Now Jesus is ready to begin his ministry which is to save humanity as his Father has directed him. This is the deeper meaning of “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”
On the mountain where Jesus took Peter, James, and John, a new revelation is pronounced as Jesus is Transfigured before them and the pronouncement the second time, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” becomes the final direction and commission that Jesus undertakes, before his entrance into Jerusalem. However, the glimpse of Jesus in his glorified body, following His Resurrection, assured the Apostles, as well as us, it isn’t the passion and death that will follow which we rest upon, but the triumph over death, sin, and eternal damnation for just those who choose that road to perdition.
Our salvation, our resurrection, and our eternal life with Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can relish in the words “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” are more than a statement. They are a preamble to eternal life with God, and the only words that will assure us of that.
Ralph B. Hathaway July 2019