Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 5 Study # 4
May 28, 2006
21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
1901 ASV Translation:
21 Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
- I. Luke's Focus on Jesus: Being Baptized and Praying.
- A. Being Baptized [see notes for May 14<248>].
- B. Praying [see notes for May 21<250>].
- II. The Response of the Father.
- A. The text tells us "the heaven opened".
- 1. What is Luke trying to tell us "phenomenally"?
- a. There are other similar statements: Ezekiel 1:1; Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; 10:11; Revelation 15:5; 19:11.
- b. The concept involved may not be "phenomenal"; it may simply mean that "visions" came to certain observers. Revelation 6:16-17 implies significant "understanding" of what would be seen if it can, in fact, be physically seen -- so clear is the "grasp" of reality that, for all intents and purposes, it is "seen". In Acts 7, Stephen clearly described what he was seeing.
- c. However, John was specifically told (John 1:33) that the "Baptizer with the Holy Spirit" would be "identified" by the visible descent of that Spirit in the form of a dove.
- d. There is no reason to not believe that, somehow, something of the third heaven became clearly visible. How many people actually saw into the third heaven is completely undisclosed.
- 2. What is Luke actually "communicating"?
- a. The "big" issue is that, in response to Jesus' prayer, the Father "opened Heaven" so that there was a clear presentation of Jesus' "connection" with Heaven. There is no way to "escape" the conclusion that Jesus is the Person with Whom we have to deal and no one will be able to by-pass His Truth-claims.
- b. Luke is not saying that we can suspend judgment about Jesus until we see Heaven open...the event is not about "how many individuals saw this occur"; it is about the fact that it occurred and is recorded by a trustworthy recorder. Ultimately, everything hinges upon the "inspiration" of the Biblical text. Our "faith" is not in divine manifestations for our eyes; those have already been given. Our "faith" is in the truthfulness of the biblical claims.
- c. At this point in Luke's record, he deliberately puts "Jesus" in the "bulls eye" and says, in effect, "This One is the One about whom you must decide."
- 1) There is no greater issue of import to man than Eternal Life/Eternal Death.
- 2) Any claim that purports to "have the answer" is "audacious" and requires a significant level of "justification".
- 3) Luke's presentation is his attempt to "build a case" to provide that "significant level" of evidence.
- B. The text tells us that the "Holy Spirit descended in a coporeal body like that of a dove".
- 1. The questions are several.
- 2. First, why a "dove"?
- a. The symbolism is ancient: it shows up as early as the Genesis record of the flood.
- b. The symbolism is that of "an announcement of the news that Life can go on" because the "judgment" has "abated" -- the original Creation was covered by the "Deep" and the Judgment brought that Creation back to its former state: covered by the water. But, the "Dove" brought evidence that "Life" was not "gone".
- 3. Second, why a physical body?
- a. The Son is present in a "body".
- b. The Spirit is present in a "body".
- c. The Father is present in a "voice".
- C. The text tells us that a voice came out of heaven, identifying Jesus as the Beloved Son of God with Whom the Father is very pleased.
- 1. Clearly the "voice from Heaven" was designed to indicate speech from the God of Heaven.
- 2. The identification of Jesus as "My Son" absolutely makes Jesus the point of focus for men on the earth.
- a. That this identification is compounded by the words "the Beloved" indicates the point of focus for God in Heaven.
- b. That this identification is also compounded by the divine statement of approval indicates that no one will ever be able to escape the central issue: what do we think of Jesus of Nazareth? To the degree that we "like" what He presents, we "like" God; to the degree that we "dislike" anything about Him or His words, we "dislike" God.