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The Story of God: Identification

Matthew 3:13-17, NRSV


Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that’s says, ‘you are my beloved in who I am well pleased’. Jesus made it clear that the same voice that he heard in the Jordan River and on Mount Tabor can be heard by me. He makes it clear that there is a home with the father. But if I decide to keep control, if I go out into the world, I will keep running around asking everything, ‘do you really love me, do you really love me?’ I give all the power to the voices of the world. It is the world that defines me then. The world’s love is full of ifs, ‘yes I love you if you are good-looking, if you are intelligent, if you are well off, if you are educated, if you have connections, if you are productive’… endless ifs and it is not too hard to know when I have left home spiritually. Resentment, jealousy, desire for revenge, lust, greed, ambition, rivalry are all obvious signs that I have left home, that I am letting the world define me with its love full of ifs. But when I am home with the Father then I know I am the beloved. I can confront and console and admonish without any fear of rejection or need for affirmation, I can suffer persecution without the need for revenge or receive praise without using it as proof of my goodness.

— Henri Nouwen,
The Return of the Prodigal Son

  • We all want to be clean, but not just on the outside
  • Baptism is a way for us to come clean
  • Identity of Jesus
  • John the Baptist had gone out in the wilderness, to protest the existing system in synagogue/temple
  • Our identity are shaped by our actions
  • Jesus getting baptized by John, is more for the the identity than being cleaned
  • To affirm John’s mission, calling people to repent
  • Identity of His Mission (v15)
  • Jesus’ understanding of people, as part of mission, to feel our miserable experience, pain
  • Identity of Us
  • God the Father gives us the identity by loving us

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