At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
One of the things that makes us Americans is that we like options. Just go to your grocery store and see how many different kinds of carbonated beverages there are. And if you’re not satisfied with that, see how many different forms of “coke” you can find.
No one likes to be put in a box, in a corner, to be forced to make a choice between two things. But that is exactly where God puts us when it comes to Jesus. As God speaks from heaven, he puts us at a fork in the road where there are only two choices. And those two choices are whether Jesus is God or not. There are no other options, there is no third choice, and there is no remaining neutral as you sit there and think about how you’re going to make this choice.
God says that as for you, Jesus, the one to whom I’m speaking, you are distinct from all other people. You’re God’s anointed, the unique son of God. According to God, Jesus is God’s own private, unique, and personal son. Jesus is both the son of God and the beloved son. Jesus is infinitely precious to God the Father.
God says that in Jesus, that he is well pleased. God delights and has both pleasure and satisfaction in Jesus. The satisfaction not only includes Jesus life up to this point in time, but points back to their relationship from eternity past. The Father has always, always, always been pleased with the Son. This kind of the life never had a beginning, and never will have an end.
You cannot get around the fact that this points to the deity of Jesus. There are many other kinds of words and phrases that could’ve been used, but the writer goes out of his way to use specific language the point to the deity of Jesus.
According to the author, Jesus is God from eternity past, period. And this wasn’t just any old guy who was blogging from his phone, looking back from hundreds of years in the future. No, this was from an eyewitness who also had direct access to eyewitnesses. This is from someone who could put his left hand on the Bible and raise his right hand to swear an oath to tell the truth, so help me God, that what he was writing was factual and true.
The writer of the gospel of Mark, and for that matter the entire Bible, is not trying to pat us on the head and make us feel better. It’s not trying to open up options of freethinking for us to come up to our own conclusions. It is trying desperately to convince us of one thing and one thing only. And that one thing is that Jesus is God.
And once it’s made the case that Jesus is God, he wants to move us to place all of our trust, all of our decisions, and all of our life at his disposal. Once we come to the fork in the road and choose Jesus, the rest of our life will look different. There really is no other option.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
So the question is what are you going to do with Jesus? You can dismiss him and throw them away, or you might set him on the side and let him come in and out as you choose. Mark’s writing this so that we make a radical, life-changing decision and place all our trust in the one who is from eternity past.
In the movie, Clear and Present Danger, Robert Ritter tells Jack Ryan that “The world is gray” to tell us that there is no truth, no right or wrong. Is not very fashionable, is not very modern to only allow two choices. It makes the hair on the back of our neck stand up because it sounds so restrictive, so exclusive, so black-and-white in a gray world.
But that’s God’s view of things. His choice to us is whether to agree with him or not. The options are simple and clear: Jesus is either God, or he’s not. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.