(NOTE: This post is part of a blog series on the Beatitudes. For the first post in this series, click here.)
Jesus takes a seat on a small boulder. The Twelve are gathered in front of him with a large crowd assembled at the base of the mountain. Talking about the multitude, Jesus begins to speak to his disciples saying:
“Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
For two centuries, there had been a growing, building anticipation about the reign of God breaking in among mankind. John the Baptist said, “It’s almost here.” Then Jesus arrives and announces that this kingdom is “at hand” and “in your midst.”
(Note: I am planning to start a short blog series on each of the Beatitudes beginning next week.)
Great crowds were being attracted to Jesus. Largely because of the miracles that were beginning to swirl around all that he was doing. And the crowds were not just Jewish. They were a mixed multitude of Jews and non-Jews gathering to Jesus. All kinds of people. The whole gamut. The whole spectrum of humanity was being attracted to Jesus.
When Jesus saw that his ministry was growing and this huge crowd was assembling, he departed from the shores of Galilee, and he began to climb a mountain. When he found a suitable place he sat down to signify that he was beginning to teach. And his twelve disciples whom he had chosen formed the inner ring.
Somewhere along the Jordan River (probably just north of the Sea of Galilee), among a crowd of people Jesus is baptized by his famous cousin, John the Baptist. He emerges from the water and begins to pray.
And as he was praying, heaven was opened22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)
Notice to whom this statement is directed. It is not spoken to John or to the crowd. The statement is addressed to Jesus. It is spoken primarily for his benefit.
It is vitally important to understand that this event occurred at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. At this point he hasn’t yet preached a single sermon. He hasn’t yet healed a sick person. He hasn’t yet driven out a single demon. He hasn’t yet performed a single miracle. There has been no public ministry performed whatsoever.
And yet the Father gives him this amazing affirmation. “You are my Son. Whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”