The Baptism of Jesus
Matthew 3:16-17, NIV – (16) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. (17) And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Jesus was just about to start His public ministry. For the last 30 years, He had honoured his natural father (actually, step father) Joseph through service and obedience. And He was growing more and more in “wisdom and stature” in His humanity. And He was also growing more and more into His an awareness of His call as the bringer of God’s Kingdom.
He had not yet done any miracles that we know of, and He had laid aside His divinity in order to live as a “son of man”. Did He know He was about to face temptation in the desert? Did He know He was about to face persecution, death threats, and betrayal? Did He know of the challenges that were coming? He certainly knew He had to go to the cross and face extreme agony at the hands of fellow men.
Yet, in this time of uncertainty, He stepped into the water and was baptized by John, to “fulfill all righteousness”.
What do you think the Father was trying to do at Jesus’ baptism? Perhaps He wanted to encourage Jesus, to stir up His confidence, to send Him into ministry with a blessing.
Whatever God’s intention, we can learn powerful principles about how to “Bless” a person, from this example of a Father blessing His Son.
What principles can we glean from this passage, about how to bless?
- Loving Touch
“… Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.”
The Father sent the Spirit of God to Jesus visibly, and actually “touched” Him – the Spirit “lighted” on Him. To “light” is to gently and lovingly touch.
If we are going to bless someone, we should lovingly and gently touch the person – put our hand on their shoulder, or hold their hand, or something similar.
There is a powerful connection made with a person, when we lovingly (and appropriately) touch them.
- Spoken Words
“… a voice from heaven said …”
Jesus knew in His spirit what the Father was saying and doing. But in this case, the Father spoke an audible blessing. It was audible as a special blessing to Jesus, but it was also audible as a witness to the people around Jesus. God wanted the people to know what He thought and felt about Jesus, and so God spoke audible words.
There is also creative power in audible words. God “spoke” and the world was created. There is life and death, and blessings and curses, in the power of our tongues. So when God spoke an audible message, it created something – perhaps courage, perhaps confidence – in Jesus, and it created something else in those who were listening to His words – perhaps belief, perhaps trust in Jesus.
When we speak an audible blessing, it creates something in the minds and hearts of those we are blessing.
- Declared Relationship
“… this is my Son …”
“THIS is my Son … this IS my Son … this is MY Son … this is my SON …”
The Father was making sure that Jesus knew that God was proud to be His Father, and He also wanted those around Jesus to know that He was proud to be the Father of Jesus.
God was declaring that He had a meaningful, a precious, a special relationship with Jesus – that He was happy to call Jesus “MY Son”.
What about us? “This is my boy”. “This is my wonderful wife”. “This is my faithful employee”. “This is my great boss”. “This is my dear friend”. Declaration of relationship can be a powerful thing.
- Words Of Affection
“… whom I love …”
God was saying, “This is how I feel about My Son. I love Him. I’m so pleased to call Him Son”.
When we speak loving words about how we feel about someone, it is not only comforting, it is also empowering. Words of affection plant seeds of security, safety, meaning, confidence, and much more, in those we bless.
- Words Of Affirmation
“… with him I am well pleased.”
With Jesus, God was well-pleased – even before Jesus’ first miracle, first sermon, first sharing of the Gospel. God was declaring that He accepted Jesus just as He was, He was validating Jesus as His Son without any performance, and He was declaring His approval of Him, in His identity and character.
It is a powerful thing to speak words of affirmation to someone, just for who they are – apart from anything they have done – their personality, their character, their uniqueness, their heart. Letting people know that we have noticed, and appreciate, what is inside of them, can be a great encouragement to them.
- Words Of Destiny
The one last part of a blessing that is not revealed in this passage (because Jesus already knew His destiny – death and resurrection) is words of destiny. We can see this over and over in the Old Testament, such as in Genesis 49, when Jacob blessed his sons.
Genesis 49:1-2, NIV – (1) Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. (2) Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.” …
Whenever a Jewish Father spoke words of blessing over his children, it included, not only the above elements, it also included words of destiny – a Father’s prophetic insights into the potential, future, and destiny of a son.
When we speak words of blessing, not only should we share a loving touch, spoken words, declared relationship, words of affection, and words of affirmation, we should also speak words of destiny. “This is what you are good at, this is what you have the potential to accomplish in the future, this is where I believe God wants to use you”.
Words of destiny are words describing a person’s potential – what you see in them, what they are good at, and what you believe they can accomplish in the future. The words of destiny can include prophetic words of insight into their future. The goal is to paint a picture of a preferred future that they can work towards, through the encouragement of your words.
The Result: Words Of Empowerment
Matthew 3:16, NIV – “… heaven was opened …”
As soon as the Father prepared to speak from heaven, heaven was opened, the Father spoke from Heaven, the Spirit descended on Jesus, and the Son on earth received a verbal (and heavenly) blessing.
When we speak a blessing over someone, we are not just saying nice words. When we speak a blessing over someone, we are releasing power from an open heaven and passing it on as an impartation here on earth. Words of blessing always pass on something good and empowering, from heaven to earth.
So how do we speak a blessing?
- Loving Touch
- Spoken Words
- Declaration of Meaningful Relationship
- Words of Affection
- Words of Affirmation
- Words of Destiny
And the result — empowerment.
So here is your assignment – which hopefully will lead to a new habit, and a new way of life.
In this next week, start by speaking a blessing over your spouse.
Then, as you have the opportunity, speak a blessing over each one of your children, and each living parent.
Then, begin to speak a blessing over your boss, your employees, your workmates, your teachers, your students, your neighbours, your friends, and yes – even your enemies.
Learn how to become a channel of impartation, from heaven to earth. Because whenever you impart something from heaven to earth, you are imparting some of the Kingdom. And when the Kingdom is shared, people get set free, lives are changed, and a new destiny begins.