Pleasing the Father

When Jesus came out of the water, after being baptized by John, a voice was heard from heaven saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
This has to be the highest form of acknowledgement and approval that anyone can receive. It is one thing to be acknowledged and honored by an earthly king or president, but to be acknowledged by the Almighty God is the very highest honor that could be bestowed on any man.

So what had Jesus done to receive this acclaim? At this point He had not yet preached a single sermon or performed any miracles. So what had He done to deserve such high commendation?

There are three things He did. First He was willing to come to earth and to take upon His glorious person human flesh. God had sought a man who could make up the hedge and who would act as an intercessor between Himself and mankind but he found no man (Ezekiel 22:30). No one born of Adam could be a worthy intercessor and no angel was qualified. Jesus was the only One who could be that mediator and perfect sacrifice and He was willing to go. And because he was willing to lay aside His divine prerogative and privilege and take upon Himself human flesh, the Father was well pleased.

Philippians 2:5-11 explains how that the Father exalted Jesus because He was willing to humble Himself and become obedient to the death of the cross. Today, the Father is still looking for sons who would be willing to go when and where He sends them. Abraham was willing and so was Isaiah – “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). These all pleased the Father, yet He still looks for people who will go where He sends them and who will willingly do His bidding. Are you willing to go? If you want the Father’s approval, you need to be willing to leave your comfort zone and to be sent on whatever mission pleases the Father. It may be to your neighbor or colleague, but it may also be to the ends of the earth. We will never receive the father’s acclaim for reclining in front of the television – only those who go can, and will be, be commended.

Second, Jesus was baptized. John’s baptism was a baptism signifying repentance. But Jesus did not have any sin to repent of and therefore there was no reason for Him to be baptized. Yet, He willingly submitted Himself to baptism “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). This can be paraphrased as: “to do what is right”. So why was it right for Him to be baptized since His baptism did not symbolize repentance, nor did it symbolize the things New Testament baptism signifies? There can only be one reason – it was the right thing to do because that was the Father’s will for Him.

Sometimes the Father wants us to do things that, to us, seem to have no good reason. Obviously, God does not do things without reason, yet He chooses to hide the purpose from us at times. Are we able to be obedient in those things that seem to make no sense or seem to have no purpose, except that it fulfills God’s will? This is what pleases Him. Mostly we find it hard enough to obey in those areas that make good sense to us, let alone obey in the things that look like they are trivial and meaningless. Yet, the Father approved of Jesus because of His obedience in even this seemingly unimportant issue of baptism.

If we want the father’s approval, we need to learn to be obedient in the smallest things – no matter how meaningless they look to us.

Thirdly, the father’s approval covered the thirty years of Jesus’ private life. The words “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” are not necessarily connected to any one event or action. Note that the Father did not say He was well pleased because of this or that, but that He was pleased with His Son. This means that the Father was well pleased with everything about His Son, including His willingness to be born as a man and His obedience in baptism but also the way Jesus had lived his life up to that point.
Jesus pleased the Father in the way He related to, and obeyed His parents, in the way he related to His friends and siblings, and the way He related to friends and strangers. Jesus pleased the Father in the way he plied His trade of carpentry, the way he treated His customers and the way He handled the money that He earned. Jesus pleased the Father in the way He had studied the Scriptures and in His prayer life. In short, everything about every detail of Jesus’ life pleased the Father.

Most of the time we think that only what we do in the spiritual realm determines the father’s pleasure with us. This is not true. The father is honored and pleased by a whole life dedicated to living righteously and uprightly. Whether we are doing menial jobs or performing great miracles makes no difference. We can honor God in both and we can dishonor God in both. The Pharisees displeased Jesus because they tried to do the right thing when it came to spiritual matters, yet they were unjust when it came to temporal things. The Lord is looking for people who, like Jesus, live every moment in a God-honoring way.

Our work, play or worship are all part of one whole and we need to please the father in every aspect of our lives. It is no good being the sweetest person to other members of the assembly, yet we are bitter towards our spouses, children or workmates. It is no good being fastidious in our tithing when we are crooked in our business dealings. God is dishonored by those who sing songs of praise in the congregation while their hearts are filled with all sorts of bitterness towards others and He is just as displeased with the drunkard as the glutton.

Many people feel that their contribution to the Kingdom is insignificant, but if it is what the Lord wants from you and if you are doing it with all your heart and the right motive, then the Lord is pleased. The greeter at the door is as important as the preacher and the housewife as pleasing to the Lord as the missionary. The key is obedience. Just do what the Father wants you to do and just be what He wants you to be and He will be well pleased and you will receive His commendation and recognition.