There’s No Need to Strive or Contend: You Are Beloved & You Bring Pleasure to the Father

Today’s selected reading begins the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the opening three chapters of this New Testament book. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” (Mark 1:1). As you begin reading the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written by John Mark you will find it beginning in a truly wonderful and powerful way. The New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ opens with John Mark setting the entire tone and stage for what he was about to write, as He would not only describe the gospel of Jesus Christ, but would also go on to declare that Jesus was not only the Christ, but the Son of God. How John Mark chooses to begin and open this gospel narrative is actually quite remarkable when you consider it in light of the encounter Jesus and His disciples would have when they came unto Caesarea Philippi. If you journey into the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find how Jesus would ask the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was. Upon hearing this question the disciples would declare how some said He was John the Baptist, some said that He was Elijah, some said that He was Jeremiah, or some even said that He was a prophet. After hearing the responses which the disciples spoke and revealed unto Him Jesus would then the questions into a more personal and intimate narrative, for Jesus would take the conversation from who men who did had not walked with and followed Him said that He the Son of man, and who they—those who walked with and followed Jesus—said that He the Son of man was. It would be in response to this personal and intimate question which Jesus would ask his disciples that Simon also called Peter would speak up and emphatically declare and proclaim that Jesus was the Christ, and that He was the Son of the living God. When asked who the Son of man was, Simon also called Peter would declare that Jesus was not only the Christ, but also the Son of the living God, and it would be this revelation which Jesus would declare He would build His church. It would be upon this revelation the Church of Jesus Christ would be built, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

            I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary to consider the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for the words we find written in this passage bring us face to face with the awesome truth that Jesus is not only the Christ, but the Son of the living God. It would be Jesus Himself who would declare that it would be upon this rock He would build His church—a rock which we clearly see being manifested and evidence when John Mark opens his own gospel narrative concerning Jesus. When and as John Mark begins his gospel narrative concerning Jesus—not only would he refer to it as the gospel of Jesus, but also that this Jesus around whom the gospel was centered was both the Christ, and the Son of the living God. At the very outset of this gospel narrative written by John Mark we find him emphatically declaring the very same words which the apostle Peter would make on that tremendous day in Caesarea Philippi. The gospel narrative which was written by John Mark would begin and open up with his emphatically declaring and proclaiming—not only the gospel of Jesus, but also that the gospel of Jesus declares, describes, and proclaims Him to be the Christ, and the Son of the living God. In all reality, you cannot truly speak of the gospel, and you cannot truly preach and believe the gospel if at the very heart and center of it Jesus is both Christ and the Son of the living God. You cannot declare—much less believe—that your “Christianity” is in fact in alignment with the biblical narrative of Christianity if at the very heart of it Jesus is not only Christ, but also the Son of the living God. The entire foundation of the journey of walking with and following Jesus is the understanding and belief that He is indeed the Christ—and not only the Christ, but the Son of the living God. John Mark would begin and open the gospel narrative written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus by emphatically declaring that He was indeed the Christ, and the Son of God.

            LET’S SETTLE IT RIGHT NOW! LET’S NOT WASTE ANY TIME! I KNOW WHO JESUS IS! DO YOU KNOW WHO JESUS IS? WHO IS JESUS TO YOU? WHO DO YOU SAY THAT JESUS IS? What makes the gospel narrative written by John Mark so absolutely and incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that it’s almost as the entire gospel hinges upon and around the emphatic declaration that Jesus is both Christ and the Son of the living God. In fact, it’s almost as if you cannot read the gospel narrative written by John Mark without coming to an understanding of and acknowledging that Jesus is both the Christ and the Son of the living God. At the very outset and beginning of the gospel narrative written by John Mark he settles and firmly declares that Jesus is both the Christ and the Son of the living God. It’s as if John Mark desires to set the entire course and stage for his gospel concerning the life and ministry of Jesus around the truth that Jesus is both Christ and the Son of the living God. If you wish to proceed within the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written by John Mark you must needs come face to face with and settle in your heart that Jesus is indeed the Christ, and that He is the Son of God. It was this reality of Jesus referring to Himself as the Son of God that caused the scribes, the Pharisees, the chief priests, and the elders of Israel to stumble. It was this declaration of being the Son of God that caused many of the Jews to stumble in Capernaum when He taught in their synagogue. In the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John you will find the Jews stumbling over the declaration Jesus made concerning God being His Father, thus denoting that He Himself was indeed the Son of God. It was one thing to be called the Son of man, and it was one thing to be called the Son of David, but it was something else entirely to be called and to refer to yourself as the Son of God. It was this declaration and this identity with the Father as being His Son that caused countless of the Jews, and countless within the religious system and community to stumble, for they would and could not accept that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. It is with this in mind I not only invite you to consider the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, but also that which is found in the third chapter of the gospel narrative of Matthew, that which is found in the seventeenth chapter of the same gospel, and that which is found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John:

            “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He his disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).

            “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of Him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

            “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).

            “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, make Himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things so ever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5:16-26).

            It would be at the Jordan River as He emerged from the waters of baptism the heavens were opened, and as John the Baptist would see the Spirit descending and lighting upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and as he would hear the voice of the Father declaring that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. It would be atop the mountain of transfiguration where the voice of the Father would once more be heard as the Father would once more speak and emphatically declare that this Jesus was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, and would then instruct Moses and Elijah to hear and listen unto Him. When asked who the disciples said that Jesus the Son of man was, Simon also called Peter would emphatically declare and proclaim that Jesus was indeed the Christ, and the Son of the living God. It would be this reality of Jesus being the Son of the living God that would cause the Jews to stumble—and not only stumble, but also seek to persecute and slay Him. The Jews themselves could not get past the declaration Jesus would make concerning His being the Son of the living God, for in so doing He would make Himself equal with God. What makes all of this so incredibly unique and astounding when you take the time to think about and consider it in light of the gospel narrative which was written by John Mark, for it’s almost as if he wastes absolutely no time in calling his readers and his audience to acknowledging that Jesus is both Christ, and the Son of the living God. It’s as if John Mark wanted His readers and His audience to acknowledge—even before actually reading the gospel narrative concerning this Jesus—that He was indeed both the Christ, and the Son of the living God. It would be as the Christ He would fulfill that which had been spoken concerning Him by the ancient prophets, and it would be as the Son of God he would perfectly fulfill the divine will and plan of the Father in the midst of the earth. You cannot read, nor can you understand the words found in the gospel narrative written by John Mark without and apart from acknowledge that Jesus is both the Christ and the Son of the living God.

            At the very beginning and outset of this gospel narrative which was written by John Mark you not only encounter the word “gospel,” but you also encounter the very heart and foundation of that gospel, which is that Jesus is both the Christ, and the Son of God. This gospel concerning Jesus the Christ would and could not be understood without and apart from the messenger whom the LORD would raise up and send before the face of the Messiah in order to prepare and make ready a people to meet and encounter Him. The gospel narrative written concerning Jesus as being the Christ and the Son of the living God would begin with a narrative concerning that messenger whom the Father would raise up before the face of the Messiah that He might make ready and prepare a people for His appearance and manifestation. What makes the ministry of John the Baptist so incredibly captivating and powerful is that he was one who knew, understood and recognized his place within the kingdom, and he never sought to elevate himself beyond the place he was given. John the Baptist knew who he was—and even when he was asked if he was the Christ, he emphatically and boldly proclaimed and declared that he was not. John the Baptist knew who he was and knew his identity, but he also knew his role and his place within the kingdom of heaven—a place he was quite content to move and operate in. John the Baptist was never one who sought to elevate himself in the midst of the earth and attain fame, prestige, popularity, title, position, rank, and all those other things that many—even within the church seek to lay hold of. Even when John’s disciples would come unto him and declare Jesus was baptizing more than he, He would emphatically declare and proclaim that he must needs decrease that Jesus might increase. Within each of the gospel narratives you will John the Baptist preparing Judaea, Jerusalem, Galilee and the surrounding region that there was one coming after him who was mightier than himself, and whose shoes he was not worthy to stoop down and unloose. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that not only did John the Baptist know his place within the kingdom of heaven, but so also did he move and operate within a posture of humility among men as he made ready and prepared a people to meet and encounter the Messiah who had been foretold and spoken of by the prophets. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening verses of the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark beginning with the first verse:

            “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:1-8).

            In the opening verse of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we are brought face to face with Jesus—not only as the Christ, but the Son of the living God. It is in the first and opening verse of the first chapter we find John Mark establishing from the very outset of this gospel account that Jesus was indeed the Christ, and that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to these words, for what we find within the opening verse of the gospel narrative written by John Mark is a powerful realization which we as the saints of God and disciples of Jesus must come face to face with and acknowledge within our hearts and lives. If we are going to be disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ we must needs come to terms with acknowledge the awesome reality that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and that Jesus is indeed the Christ. No true revelation of Jesus is without the understanding and knowledge that He is indeed the Son of the living God, and that He is indeed the Christ. Before even delving into an account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ we find John Mark calling and drawing our attention to the tremendous truth and reality that Jesus is indeed the Christ, and that Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God—two of the most necessary and critical truths concerning Jesus within our hearts and lives. In all reality, I would dare say that we cannot truly call and claim ourselves to be disciples and followers of Jesus without and apart from acknowledging with our mouths and believing with our hearts that Jesus is both the Christ, as well as the Son of the living God. The apostle Paul wrote and declared that if confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. It is with this in mind I would also like to call and draw your attention to the strong and powerful reality that we must needs acknowledge with both our hearts and our mouths that Jesus is both the Christ and the Son of the living God. It was this reality which John Mark sought to present and make very clear at the outset of the gospel narrative which he wrote concerning the life and ministry of Jesus, for it was the reality that Jesus was both the Christ and the Son of the living God that the entire gospel hinges and is built upon.

            As you continue reading in the gospel narrative which was written by John Mark we will find that immediately after he writes concerning Jesus being the Christ and the Son of God he transitions to the messenger of the Messiah whom the LORD would raise up to go before His face that He might prepare the way before Him. It would be this divine and holy messenger whom the LORD would raise up before the appearance and manifestation of the Messiah that a people might be made ready and prepared for that appointed time when the Messiah and the Christ would be manifested among them and in their midst. Within the first eight chapters of the first chapter of the gospel narrative written John Mark we find and read how John the Baptist baptized in the wilderness and preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for as surely and as much as we speak of the gospel of Jesus being a gospel of His being Christ and the Son of the living God, we must also acknowledge the awesome and incredible reality that it is a gospel of repentance unto the remission of sins. At the very heart and foundation of the gospel of Jesus is the acknowledge and declaration that He is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God, but it is also a gospel of repentance unto the remission of sins. The very beginning of the gospel narrative of Jesus the Christ would not even begin with Jesus Himself, but would begin with that voice which would be raised up to go before His face that he might make ready and prepare a people for Him. It would be through baptism—and not only baptism, but also a baptism unto repentance for the forgiveness of sins that a people would be made ready and would be prepared for the appearance and manifestation of the Messiah and the Christ in the earth. The foundation of the gospel is the acknowledgement that Jesus is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God, but the way to enter into that truth is through repentance—and repentance unto the remission of sins.

            In the first eight verses of the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark you will find a powerful description of John the Baptist, and how John the Baptist came preaching a gospel of repentance unto the remission of sins, and how he would baptize men and women in the waters of the Jordan that they might be made ready and prepared for the Messiah who would be manifested in their midst. It is in the first eight verses of the first chapter we find John Mark writing concerning John the Baptist that he would come baptizing in the wilderness, and preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It would be in direct response to John the Baptist’s preaching and baptizing that men and women would come unto him—not only to be baptized of him, but also to confess their sins. This is incredible important for us to realize, for in order for a people to be made ready for the appearance and manifestation of the Messiah they would come unto John to confess their sins before a holy and just God, and to be baptized unto the repentance of sins. What makes this even more astonishing is when you come to verses nine through eleven and find the second account of Jesus coming unto John the Baptist at the waters of the Jordan River to be baptized of him. John Mark would write that Jesus would come from Nazareth of Galilee, and would be baptized of John in the Jordan River. It’s worth noting that John Mark would also write concerning the baptism of Jesus that as Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism John the Baptist would see the heavens opened before him, and would see the Spirit descending like a dove upon Jesus the Christ. As the Spirit descended upon Jesus the Christ we find a voice speaking from heaven declaring unto Jesus that He was indeed His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. What an incredibly powerful truth is found at the baptism of Jesus the Christ, for as Jesus would emerge from the waters of the baptism we find the presence and person of the Holy Spirit, as well as the voice of the Father speaking from heaven. It would be there at the Jordan River where we would see the first manifestation of the divine and holy Trinity as Jesus would emerge from the waters of the Jordan River, as the Holy Spirit would descend like a dove upon Him, and as the voice of the Father would speak from heaven declaring that Jesus was His beloved Son, and that He was well pleased in and with Him. It would be at the Jordan River we find and read the first manifestation of the divine Trinity in the earth, as Jesus the Son would emerge from the waters of baptism, as the Holy Spirit would descend and rest upon Him, and as the voice of the Father would speak unto the Son declaring that He was indeed His Son in whom He was well pleased.

            This declaration from heaven that Jesus was not only His Son, but also His beloved Son is truly awesome and powerful when and as you take the time to think about and consider it, for it is what we find in these verses that we find two distinct and two key elements concerning baptism—namely, the person and presence of the Holy Spirit being manifested within our hearts and lives, as well as the voice of the Father speaking directly unto us declaring that we are His children, and that we are His sons and daughters. What we must realize and recognize when reading the words found in the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark is that before Jesus would ever make the declaration that God was His Father, and that He was the Son, He would hear the voice of the Father speaking from heaven declaring that He was His beloved Son, and that the Father was delighted and pleased with Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible, for not would Jesus hear the voice of the Father speak directly unto Him and declare He was beloved of the Father, but He would also hear from the Father how He was pleased with Him. It would be there at the Jordan River where Jesus would not only hear the voice of the Father speak of His love for Him, but Jesus would also hear the voice of the Father speak of His pleasure and delight in Him. Please do not miss the truth that surrounds the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River, for it was there at the Jordan River where Jesus would hear the voice of the Father both speaking of His love for Him, as well as His delight, His joy and His pleasure in Him. This is something which we must needs pay close and careful attention to, for two of the greatest truths we can hear from the Father is that He loves us, and that He is pleased with us. What’s more, is that it would be there at the Jordan River where we would encounter the voice of the Father speaking unto Jesus that He was His Son, we would encounter that Jesus was loved, and that the Father was pleased and delighted with Him.

            THE VOICE OF THE FATHER! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE MY CHILD! I AM PLEASED WITH YOU (I DELIGHT IN YOU! I TAKE GREAT PLEASURE IN YOU)! As you read the words which describe the narrative of Jesus coming unto John the Baptist at the Jordan River you will find that it would be there as Jesus came forth out of the waters of baptism He would not only hear the Father call Him Son, and would not only hear the Father express His love for Him, but He would also hear the voice of the Father emphatically declare that He was pleased with Him. Please note that this would be before the cross, before the suffering, and before Jesus would perform a single miracle. Before Jesus would eve open the eyes of a single blind person, before Jesus would open the ears of a single deaf person, before Jesus would raise a single dead person back to life, before Jesus would cast out a single evil spirit and demon who was tormenting and oppressing a son or daughter of Abraham the Father would speak and declare unto Him that He was His Son, and that He was loved, and how the Father was pleased with Him. This is something truly astonishing and worth paying close and careful attention to, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that three of the greatest truths we as the saints of God, and we as the children of God can hear is that we are indeed sons and daughters, that we are indeed loved, and that the Father is pleased and delighted in us. The more I think about this the more I can’t help but think about and consider the words which are found in the opening chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian congregation, as well as the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome. It is what we find within these chapters where we encounter the awesome and wonderful truth that we are indeed sons and daughters of the one true and living God, and that the Father is incredibly pleased with and delighted with us. Not only this, but we are greatly loved by the eternal Father, and are loved by the Father as Jesus was loved by the Father who sent Him unto the earth to die on the cross for our sins to bring us into right relationship with the Father. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome, as well as the words which are found in the opening chapter of the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus:

            “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorsious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan with ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth ye yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:12-26).

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessed in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ O Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of Promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).

            YOU ARE MY CHILD! YOU ARE LOVED! I AM PLEASED WITH YOU! I TAKE GREAT DELIGHT AND PLEASURE IN YOU! YOU’VE ALREADY GOT MY APPROVAL! THERE DOES NOT NEED TO BE ANY STRIVING! THERE DOES NOT NEED TO BE ANY CONTENDING! WALK, LIVE AND MOVE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE MY SON AND THAT YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER! LIVE YOUR LIFE IN THE FULLNESS OF THE REALITY THAT YOU ARE MY SON AND YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER! I ALREADY HAVE GREAT DELIGHT AND GREAT PLEASURE IN YOU! THERE IS NOTHING YOU NEED TO DO TO EARN MY LOVE! THERE IS NOTHING YOU NEED TO PROVE! THERE IS NOTHING YOU NEED TO DO TO EARN MY LOVE! THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO THAT CAN EARN MY LOVE! YOU ARE MY CHILD! YOU ARE MY BELOVED! LAY DOWN AND LAY ASIDE ALL STRIVING AND ALL CONTENDING IN YOUR LIFE AND WALK IN THE FREEDOM AND KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE MY SON AND MY DAUGHTER! THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE AND SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT! YOU ARE MY SON! YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER! YOU ARE BELOVED! I LOVED YOU EVEN BEFORE YOU COULD DO ANYTHING BEFORE AND FOR ME! WILL YOU WALK IN MY GREAT LOVE AND AFFECTION FOR AND TOWARD YOU! WILL YOU WALK IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE MY BELOVED! YOU ARE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY! CONFIRMED BY THE FATHER, ANOINTED BY THE SPIRIT! THE SPIRIT CAME AND DESCENDED UPON JESUS AS THE DIVINE PRESENCE OF THE ETERNAL FATHER WITHIN AND IN THE MIDST OF HIS LIFE! AS JESUS CAME FORTH FROM THE WATERS OF BAPTISM—NOT ONLY DID HE EXPERIENCE THE MANIFEST PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, BUT HE ALSO EXPERIENCED AND HEARD THE VOICE OF THE FATHER SPEAKING DIRECTLY UNTO HIM! KEEP IN MIND THAT THE FATHER WAS PLEASED WITH AND LOVED THE SON BEFORE HE EVEN ENGAGED HIMSELF IN THAT WORK AND MINISTRY FOR WHICH HE WAS CALLED!

            IT IS THE VOICE OF THE FATHER AND THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT THAT PREPARES YOU FOR TEMPTATION! IT IS TEMPTATION THAT PREPARES YOU FOR THE WORK AND MINISTRY FOR WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED, ORDAINED AND APPOINTED! IT WAS AT THE JORDAN RIVER JESUS WOULD HEAR THE VOICE OF THE FATHER AND EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT, AND IT WOULD BE VOICE OF THE FATHER AND THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT THAT WOULD PREPARE HIM FOR THE TEMPTATION BEFORE THE MINISTRY! As I sit here today thinking about the baptism of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by the awesome reality that even before He had performed a single miracle, even before He had raised a single person from death to life, even before He had opened the eyes of a single blind person, even before He had caused a single lame person to walk again, even before He had engaged the spiritual realm by casting out unclean spirits, the voice of the Father would speak unto and concerning Him. I have previously written whether or not the voice of the Father which spoke from heaven atop the mount of transfiguration was more for the disciples Peter, James and John, or whether it was for Moses and Elijah. We know that Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the prophets, and we know that Moses had previously encountered the voice and presence of the living God atop Horeb in the wilderness as He would speak unto Him face to face as a man would speak to a friend. We know that Elijah encountered the LORD atop the very same mountain in the wilderness, as he would experience an earthquake, a fire, and a wind, and yet the LORD would not be in any of these physical manifestations in the earth. It would not be until the still small voice was heard by Elijah that he would cover his face with his mantle and come forth to the entrance of the cave. How absolutely incredible and powerful it would have been for the voice which spoke from heaven there at the mount of transfiguration was heard by the disciples, but might very well have been spoken unto Moses and Elijah—not only introducing them to Jesus as the Son of the living God, but also as expressing in their hearing the divine pleasure and delight of the Father in Him. Not only this, but the voice which spoken out of heaven from the midst of the cloud would command and instruct them to hear and to listen to this Jesus who was the eternal Son of God.

            There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus heard the voice of the Father speaking from heaven as He emerged from the waters of the Jordan River on the day He was baptized, and yet what I can’t help but think about and consider is whether or not the voice which spoke from heaven was more for Jesus, or whether it was more for John the Baptist. Scripture indicates that John the Baptist saw the heavens opened as Jesus came forth from the waters of baptism, and how John the Baptist saw the Spirit descend from heaven in the bodily form as a dove, and lighting upon Jesus. It is with this in mind, and with this being said I can’t help but get the strong impression and idea that when the voice of the Father was heard out of heaven—it was heard and spoken not so much for Jesus as it was John the Baptist. It’s as if the eternal Father in heaven was declaring unto John—but also unto Jesus as well—that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. There would be no call, nor would there be any command to hear and listen to Jesus there at the Jordan River, but how absolutely powerful it is to think about and consider that the voice of the Father would break forth out of the midst of the heaven as the Spirit descended upon Jesus—not only declaring concerning Jesus that He was His Son, and not only declaring concerning Jesus that He was loved and was the beloved, but also that He was well pleased in and with Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome reality, for immediately after the voice of the Father would be heard from heaven, and immediately after the presence of the Spirit would light upon Jesus, that same Spirit would drive Jesus into the wilderness where He would spend forty days being tempted by the devil. The apostle Matthew writes and records how the Spirit would expressly lead and drive Jesus into the wilderness, and that Jesus would fast forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, and afterward would be an hungered. It would be in this moment of hunger, and in this moment of need the devil would come unto Jesus and would tempt Him—not once, not twice, but three different times.

            I firmly and absolutely believe that the voice of the Father and the presence of the Spirit would be absolutely critical and absolutely necessary in the life of Jesus the Christ there in the wilderness—particularly as He would be tempted of the devil, for when Jesus would be thrust into the wilderness He would do so having heard the voice of His Father in heaven and experiencing the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus would enter into the wilderness having heard the voice of the Father declare unto Him that He was His beloved, that He was His beloved Son, and that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. Jesus would enter into the wilderness knowing that He was indeed the eternal Son of the living God, that He was beloved of the Father, and that the Father delighted and took great pleasure and joy in Him. This is something we must recognize and understand when thinking about and considering the awesome truth and reality concerning Jesus in the wilderness, for Jesus would be there in the midst of the wilderness tempted of the devil, and the devil would tempt Jesus three separate and three distinct times, and would speak unto Him concerning His being the Son of the living God. The tempter would come unto Jesus, and with each subsequent temptation would use the reality concerning Jesus that He was truly and indeed the Son of God—“If you are the Son of God, command these stones be turned into bread.” Please do not miss and lose sight of this, for the serpent would indeed tempt Jesus, but He would attempt to use Jesus’ identity and position with the Father as means and ground for the temptation. It’s as if the tempter would come unto Jesus and tempt and almost dare Him to turn stones into bread if He was truly and indeed the Son of the living God. If you are indeed the Son of the living God then perform this miracle and do this sign. If you are indeed the Son of the living God then perform this work and do this for yourself. Surely being the Son of the living God He would understand you commanding these stones be made into bread. That which the serpent and tempter sought to do in the life of Jesus the Christ was not only tempt Jesus, but also tempt Jesus to prove and demonstrate that He was the Son of the living God—and to do so to serve and minister unto His own needs, His own wants, and His own desires.

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the awesome reality of the voice of the Father speaking from heaven as Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism, for the voice of the Father speaking from heaven would express great joy, great delight and great pleasures in Him, and would not only speak of relationship with Him being the Son, but also love and affection as Jesus would know and understand that He was beloved of the Father. Oh how many men and women desperately need to hear the voice of the Father speaking directly unto them, and declaring unto them that they are loved, and that the Father has and takes great joy, great delight, and great pleasure in them. What makes the words which the Father spoke unto Jesus so incredibly beautiful is when you think about the fact that these words were spoken before Jesus had performed a single work in the midst of the earth, and before Jesus had spoken a single word to teach and instruct the people. There is great significance in this, for the divine joy, the divine delight, and the divine pleasure which the Father had for Jesus was not based on any external work or any manifestation in the midst of the earth, but was based solely on the reality that He was indeed His Son, and that He was the beloved Son. There are countless men and women who desperately need to hear the voice of the Father—and not only hear the voice of the Father, but also hear the voice of the Father speaking unto them how they are beloved, and how they are His son and that they are His daughter. More than this, there are men and women who desperately need to hear the voice of the Father declare unto them that He is pleased with them and that He takes great joy and delight in them. It is this voice of the Father that can and will stop all striving and all contending, as they can rest in the awesome and wonderful knowledge that they are truly and indeed a child of the living God, and that the living and eternal God loves them, is pleased with, and takes great joy and delight in them.

            As you continue reading in the first and opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark you will find him also writing concerning Jesus emerging from the wilderness, and how after Jesus would emerge from the wilderness, and after John was put in prison, Jesus would come into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, as He would declare, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” There is something to be said about this, for what we find and read in the gospel narrative written by John Mark seems to indicate that Jesus would be manifested in the earth around the same time as the appointment of John the Baptist would come to an end and would draw to a close. The words which are found in the gospel narrative written by John Mark seem to wonderfully and powerfully indicate that it was after John the Baptist was put in prison by Herod that Jesus would preach the kingdom of God in Judaea, in Galilee, and in the surrounding regions. This is something worth noting and considering, for there would be many who would view the imprisonment of John the Baptist as something which was negative, and as something that was somehow tragic in the life of this messenger of God. The truth of the matter, however, is that I can’t help but see the imprisonment of John the Baptist as a powerful and emphatic declaration unto him that his time upon the earth was drawing to a close, and that he had fulfilled and completed the work which he had been set out to do. I cannot help but view John’s being put into prison as confirmation of his ministry, and that it would be there in prison where the Father would confirm unto John the Baptist that he had finished his course, and that he had run his race in the midst of the earth. John the Baptist’s being put in prison was essentially a wonderful and powerful confirmation unto him that he had indeed fulfilled the work and assignment for which the eternal God and Father had sent him, and that the time of the Messiah had now come within and upon the earth. With John the Baptist in prison it would essentially be an emphatic declaration unto him that his time and his assignment within and upon the earth had been completed, and that the time of the Messiah was about to be manifested in the earth.

            There would be those who would read the narrative of John’s being put in prison and would think of it as somehow being cruel and tragic, for how could the living God allow this messenger of the Messiah who would go before His face and prepare a people for His appearance and manifestation be cast into prison. I fully recognize and understand that there would be those who would read the narrative of John’s being cast into prison, and who would think about and consider that John the Baptist’s being put in prison was somehow something negative and tragic within his life. It would be John the Baptist who would emphatically declare that He was not the Messiah, it would be John the Baptist who would emphatically declare that he must needs decrease that the Messiah might increase, and it would be John the Baptist who would declare that Jesus the Christ must needs be manifested in the midst of the earth. With his being put in prison John the Baptist would enter into that place of divine pleasure, delight and joy in the sight and presence of the Father, as it would be his being put in prison the living and eternal God would indeed confirm and validate the work and assignment he had completed within and in the midst of the earth. It would be his being put in prison the eternal Father would effectively remove him from the equation—not as a sign of displeasure in him, nor as a sign that he had somehow sinned and transgressed against the LORD, but rather as a powerful sign that the work he had been sent to do had been completed, and that the time of the Messiah had come. With this being said there is this wonderful and powerful sense that his being put into prison was also a powerful demonstration and manifestation of making the room for the Messiah, for the time of the messenger had drawn to a close, and the time of the Messiah had come upon and in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and powerful reality, for we dare not and must not look at view John’s being put in prison as somehow a sign of displeasure in him—particularly and especially after John would see the heavens opened, would see the Spirit descending upon Jesus in the bodily form of a dove, and hearing the voice of the Father speaking and declaring unto Him that He was well pleased in and with Him. Oh how absolutely and incredibly captivating this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for the imprisonment of John the Baptist was not a sign of displeasure in him, nor in the work which he carried out and fulfilled in the earth, but rather as a means of confirming that which he had done in the earth, and how John the Baptist would perfectly fulfill that which the LORD had called and sent him to complete.

            If you continue moving on in the first and opening chapter you will find that after Jesus would begin preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven and calling men to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, He would walk by the Sea of Galilee, and would see Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Jesus would see these two brethren there at the Sea of Galilee and would call, command and invite them to come after and follow Him, and He would make them fishers of men. John Mark writes how straightway and immediately Simon and Andrew forsook their nets, and followed Jesus. FORSAKING AND FOLLOWING! There is something truly powerful and captivating when reading these words in the first and opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark, for when Jesus called Simon and Andrew to come after and follow Him, they would immediately forsake their nets, and would follow Him. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for not only did these two brothers forsake their nets, but they would do so immediately, as they would leave the nets behind, and would follow Jesus. Oh there is something absolutely captivating about these words and this reality when you consider the invitation to walk with, come after and follow Jesus requires immediate response and immediate action. The brothers Simon and Andrew would hear the voice of Jesus calling and inviting them to come after, walk with and follow after Jesus, and it would be in direct response to that call and hearing that voice they would forsake their nets, thus forsaking that which they had previously known, and forsaking that which they had perhaps spent their entire lives doing that they might walk with and follow Jesus. Simon and Andrew forsaking their nets would be a powerful demonstration that they would forsake and leave everything behind that they might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. Scripture makes absolutely no mention of whether or not Simon and Andrew had been baptized of John, nor that they had heard the words which John the Baptist preached, however, it is in the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Andrew seemingly walking with John the Baptist, and departing from John the Baptist that he might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. There is every indication that these two brothers had some sort of understanding concerning who Jesus was, for why else would they immediately forsake their nets, forsake their livelihood, and forsake that which they had known—perhaps all their lives. There is every indication that these disciples had heard and believed something about Jesus the Christ, for they would immediately and straightway forsake their nets as they would leave them behind that they might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ.

            FORSAKING NETS! FORSAKING FATHER! Upon reading the words which are found in the opening chapter you will find that as Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee He would see Simon and his brother Andrew who were casting a net into the sea, and upon seeing these two brothers He would call and invite them to after Him, and He would make them fishers of men. John Mark writes and records how immediately and straightway these two brothers would forsake their nets and would follow Him. As Jesus would continue a little further along the Sea of Galilee He would see two other brothers—this time, however, it would not be two brothers alone, but it would be two brothers who would be with their father. The two brothers Jesus would see on this particular occasion would be James and John the sons of Zebedee, and Jesus would call and invite them to come after, walk with and follow Him. It’s worth noting that in the case of Simon and Andrew we find them forsaking their nets that they might follow Jesus, while in the case of James and John we find them leaving and forsaking their father that they might follow Him. FORSAKING NETS, FORSAKING FATHER! It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand that which is written and found within this narrative, for later on Jesus would emphatically declare that those who love father or mother more than Him are not worthy of Him. It would be Jesus Himself who would emphatically declare and proclaim unto His disciples and His audience that those who loved and would choose their father or mother more than and over Him would not be worthy of Him. It is in this narrative we find and read James and John leaving their father behind that they might walk with and follow Jesus. For three and a half years they would walk with and follow Jesus, and I can’t help but wonder if these brothers ever saw or interacted with their father after this particular encounter. We do know that they most certainly had interaction with their mother, for Scripture would later reveal how their mother would speak unto Jesus together with James and John and would ask that they each be allowed to sit next to Him in the kingdom of His Father—one on His right hand, and one on His left hand. We know for a fact that there would be future and further interaction between these two brothers and their mothers, however, outside of their being called of Jesus at the Sea of Galilee there is very little mention of any further interaction between these two brothers and their father. With this in mind, however, it is absolutely necessary to consider the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto His disciples later on during His time of public ministry, for Jesus would boldly and emphatically declare that anyone who loved father or mother more than Him was not worthy of Him. Moreover, it would be Simon also called Peter who would declare and proclaim unto Jesus that they had forsaken everything that they might walk with and follow Jesus. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives:

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

            “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was ont able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? OR else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-33).

            “Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:27-30).

It is important to note the words which are found within these passages, for earlier on in His publican ministry Jesus would declare unto His disciples that anyone who loved father or mother more than Him would and could not be His disciple. Now here we are later on during that time of public ministry and we find Jesus again speaking of forsaking father and mother—and not only father and mother, but also wife, and children, and lands—for His name’s sake. It would be on this particular occasion Jesus would declare that those who forsook father and mother for His name’s sake would receive an hundredfold, and would inherit everlasting life. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of these words, for what we find within these passages is a powerful testimony and witness concerning what John Mark and the other gospel writers wrote concerning these disciples who had forsaken everything to follow Jesus. Simon Peter would emphatically declare unto Jesus that they had forsaken all and followed Him, and what we find and read in the opening chapter of the New Testament gospel written by John Mark is a powerful declaration of Simon and Andrew forsaking their nets to follow and come after Jesus, and James and John forsaking their father that they might come after and follow Jesus. The words which we find Jesus speaking when He sent the twelve disciples out two by two, and the words which He spoke in response to Simon’s declaration that they had forsaken all to follow Him are a powerful confirmation, witness and testimony to what we find in the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark and the other gospel authors, for Jesus would confirm that those who had forsaken father and mother, those who had forsaken lands, those who had forsaken those things in the natural life that they might walk with and follow Him would be worthy to be His disciple, and would inherit eternal and everlasting life. The underlying question we must ask ourselves when reading these words is what are we being called to forsake and leave behind that we might walk with and follow Jesus. What are we willing to forsake that we might come after and follow Jesus. Jesus clearly stated that if we loved certain things—yea, even certain people in our lives—we would not be worthy to be His disciple. The question we must ask ourselves is not only what we might have already forsaken that we might be disciples of Jesus, but what we are willing to continue to forsake that we might continue to be a disciple of Jesus who walks with, comes after and follows after Him.

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