Right at the start of his gospel, Mark unequivocally makes the claim that Jesus is not only the “Christ”, or the “Messiah” but even more provocatively, He is the “Son of God”. The Messiah was understood by most Jews to be a powerful political leader who would deliver Israel from its oppressors but he would be human, not divine. However, Mark is claiming outright divinity for Christ by asserting that John the Baptist is the ‘voice calling in the wilderness’ in the famous prophetic passage of Isaiah 40 who will prepare the way of the Lord, who will come to Jerusalem himself. The word translated as ‘Lord’ in our Bibles is the Hebrew word, “Yahweh”, God’s personal name!
The first thing Jesus does before he begins his public ministry is to be baptized by John. As he rises from the water, God the Father declares over him, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (read Mark 1:9-11). God’s love and approval for Jesus is not something he had to work for. Remember, at this stage of Jesus’ life, he hadn’t done anything for God. Jesus is loved simply because he is God’s Son. While it’s true Jesus is the unique ‘Son of God’, God’s astounding and generous display of favour and love is extended to us for through Christ, we are in fact ‘sons of God’ too (Galatians 3:26). It is a right bestowed upon everyone who receives Christ (John 1:12-13) by God as a gift, not something we’ve earned or need to be worthy of.
A story is told of a dejected confederate soldier who was sitting outside the grounds of the White House following the Civil War. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The solider related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln about lands unjustly taken from him following the war but on each occasion guards blocked his attempts to enter the White House and turned him away.
The boy motioned to the old soldier to follow him. When they approached the entrance, the guards came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting. He then introduced the soldier to the President! The boy happened to be Tad Lincoln.
It is through Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16) that we have access to God, his love and approval. Timothy Keller writes, “To pray in Jesus’ name…is, essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again. It also means to recognize your status as a child of God, regardless of your inner state. God our Father is committed to his children’s good, as any good father would be”.