12Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. Mark 1:9-13
I recently heard of an article that spoke of the effectiveness of hugs. If you Google how many hugs someone needs per day you’ll find this at the top of the list:
“There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
I’m not sure of the context of the statement but it would appear to me that most people in our society haven’t even gotten the dose of four hugs per day. Worse yet, they’ve gone far too long without hearing the best words people can hear “I love you. I’m very proud of you.” If hugs have the power for making people healthier, making them more gentle, humble, grateful, etc., then imagine what the words I love you. I’m very proud of you can do.
My wife will remind me at the end of the day if we’ve been too distracted to say those words to each other. Its as if she’s reminding us that they’re medicinal. I believe they are.
When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan the heavenly voice made sure to say something critical for Jesus, something like “I love you. I’m very proud of you.” Jesus was beginning His ministry and was going to need those words.
Most of us can recall times when someone whom we looked up to said those words to us, whether it was parents, relatives, friends, or maybe even colleagues. How did we feel when those words were spoken? Lifted. Approved. Refreshed. Loved. Special.
Many fathers or mothers don’t speak these words to their children. Instead, the children hear anger, critique, frustration, or even are being ignored. Many of those children can become bitter at the hand they’ve been dealt. The first they blame is usually God. It can be incredibly difficult to overcome why someone else wouldn’t find it within themselves to love us as God loves us. Many parents are even embarrassed or uncomfortable saying these words. They too may have had parents that denied this medicinal dose day after day, year after year. Our point here is not to accuse or place blame, though. Our point is that people need what God wants and intended for each of us. Pure, genuine, heavenly love. John 3:35 has Jesus saying that “the Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.” We find other passages echoing similar sentiments. Jesus wouldn’t have accomplished what He did through His ministry without the most powerful ingredient known to mankind, His Father’s love.
Mark 1:11 says Jesus was God’s Son. That means Jesus was God’s Messiah, His chosen King. Psalm 2 speaks of David as God’s Son. That means David was God’s representative king for Israel on earth. David would be representative of Israel. Jesus is God’s representative king here as well. When Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan we’re supposed to recognize this about Him. Jesus is the King who will bring healing to the brokenhearted and those cast down in society. He’ll turn the culture upside down.
Jesus was baptized that He would be revealed to Israel as its King (John 1:31). We are baptized because we want to be represented by Him (Romans 6:1ff). We want the penalties of sin removed in order that we would be set free to God’s people in the world (Acts 5:31-32). We’re baptized to denounce the corruption and hate that poisons human hearts (1 Peter 3:20-21). We’re baptized because we’ve been penetrated by the heavenly words “I love you.”
After Jesus’ baptism, He was sent out into the wilderness to be tested. Was this love for the nations worthy? Was this love genuine? Was it true? It appears Mark says yes. God’s chosen deliverer did indeed have the most powerful ingredient known to mankind. He had His Father’s love. This was the cure for Israel’s disease and the nations’ disease, their rebellion against God.
The Jordan waters were used by John to symbolize the new exodus. The pain of Israel and their centuries long exile was coming to end. Their sins against the covenant no longer had to retain the curses of Deuteronomy 28-30. Israel had seen generation after generation in history where there was no love. Their role in the world was to love the nations. Instead, they became enslaved by their own corruption and hate. Instead of blessing other nations, they became part of the problem. They were in need of deliverance again. This exodus was going to be led by Israel’s long awaited Messiah, Jesus. Therefore, the Spirit was upon Him signaling His mission of healing and deliverance to Israel and to the world. Jesus will free all the nations enslaved by Satan’s power.
We all need to hear that our Father loves us, daily. When grasped properly it has an incredible medicinal effect. We “bathe” in it. It has the power to heal the deepest wounds. And, it has the power to send us to those in need of it most. This passage in Mark captures Jesus’ mission and ours in a nutshell, doesn’t it?