The Jordan River by JOHN MCKEEL
The Jordan River — John McKeel

It was an amazing scene. The banks of the Jordan River across from Jericho will remind you of a jungle. It’s lush and green and thick with growth. Here the river spreads out into a slow-moving stream, and pilgrims cross from the land of the Gentiles into Judea on their way to Jerusalem.

This is probably where John and his disciples were baptizing, and on this day, Jesus of Nazareth came to be immersed. We read in Matthew’s Gospel:

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Focus on those words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” So what had Jesus done to please God? At this moment, Jesus hadn’t performed a single miracle. He hadn’t healed anyone or given a single sermon that we know of. Jesus hadn’t gone to the cross or been resurrected. As far as anyone could tell, Jesus was just the son of Joseph and a carpenter from an obscure village called Nazareth.

God’s love isn’t dependent upon our great accomplishments. We don’t need to earn it or prove our love. His love isn’t conditional. “For God so loved the world” – that includes all of us, great and small. What matters then is our response. God loves you! What will you do now?

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