Wednesday, March 01, 2017


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Who is God and what is he like?

This is a deeply significant question for each of us to answer. For the person we become will reflect what we worship – the god or God we worship. Our view of God will form and shape how we think, act, and relate with others, for good or bad.

Jesus alone is the lens who clearly reveals to us who God is. “The one who has seen me has seen the Father” he said. (John 14:9).

The writer of Hebrews makes this profound statement about Jesus that should elicit awe and wonder in us: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3)

As the Word of God, the divine Son of the Father, Jesus united himself to our human flesh and blood in the incarnation by the Holy Spirit from the Father.

Jesus reveals that God is not a solitary, impersonal, Sovereign separated from us high above in the heavens.

Consider the event of Jesus’s baptism that began his public ministry. This is an epiphany experience revealing to us a Jesus-looking God.

A rugged, desert prophet named John was urging fellow Jews from Jerusalem and the surrounding area to “repent” – to change the way they think and act about God and his coming kingdom-reign on earth.

So people came out to John in the Judean wilderness to confess their sins – their wrong beliefs and their ungodly lives – so they could be immersed (“baptized”) in the Jordan River. As sinners they were immersed in water to receive the promise of forgiveness for their sins and a new life.

Then Jesus shows up. And he wants John to baptize him! Apparently, John knew enough about Jesus to know Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, because baptism is only for sinners who need to repent.

“But John tried to stop him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’

 Jesus answered him, ‘Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John allowed him to be baptized.

 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said: ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.’ ” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Jesus is immersed in water like a sinner, in solidarity with sinners, sharing in our human flesh and blood.

And when Jesus came out of the water, his identity – indeed God’s identity – is revealed right here!

The heavenly voice of God the Father declares that Jesus is his Son whom he loves and is pleased with. And the Holy Spirit proceeds down from the Father to rest on Jesus his beloved Son.

In his baptism Jesus is revealed as the promised servant-King of Israel (the words of the heavenly voice reflect Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42).

But this is no ordinary human king.

Secondly, Jesus is revealed as the God-man – he is God united to our humanity, indeed all humanity!

In his baptism Jesus also reveals that God is a vibrantly-alive, relational Three-in-One community of self-giving, sacrificial love.

The Father loves and delights in the Son with the movement of the Spirit.

And the Son with the Spirit yields himself, listens to, and loves the Father in response. Anointed with the Spirit, Jesus expresses his love back to the Father throughout his ministry in the words he speaks and in how he serves.

Here at his baptism Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature.”

Who is God?

Jesus reveals that God’s core essential nature that binds together all his attributes is LOVE.

John, the “apostle of love,” put it best when he said:

God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son in the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin…This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit.”  (1 John 4:8-10, 13)

If God is love, then that means he is the perfect relationship of love. And every relationship of love has three elements: the lover, the beloved, and the love they share.

God is a relational God of love: the Father loves the Son, his beloved, in the bond of love that is the Spirit.

This is Good News that heals us of all our toxic and harmful images of God so we may experience our lives immersed in the Triune God’s presence through Jesus.

The Triune God of love has sacrificially loved us in Jesus by immersing himself into our humanity and our sin. By the Spirit we see and know that we are immersed in the sacrificial love of Jesus that comes from God our heavenly Father.

When we see God’s glory radiating in the incarnate, crucified, and risen Jesus with the eyes of faith, then our hearts are set free to dance in the communion of God’s self-giving, sacrificial love.

(Next week we continue with A Relational God of Love, Part 3)

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A Congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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