A Voice From Heaven
Twice during Jesus’ ministry, the Father’s voice came down from heaven. Each time the heavenly voice said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Have you ever wondered why the Father’s voice uttered those words or why they were spoken at those exact times? I did, which set me on a journey.
To find the answer to those two questions, one must understand the sacrifice system which God established in ancient times. When a sacrifice was offered to God, God had placed specific criteria on how each could be offered. He could reject or accept the sacrifice based on if the one bringing Him the sacrifice honored His instructions.
For example, before Moses and the Law were established, Cain and Abel each brought a sacrifice to God. One God accepted, and the other God rejected.
There were specific stipulations for bringing God a sacrifice. First, the offering had to be something of value; it had to be a sacrifice, meaning it had to cost the giver something. If the offering had no value to the one presenting it to God, it was not considered a sacrifice. Another stipulation was one’s heart. In the case of Cain’s offering, before his offering was ultimately rejected, God told Cain to do what was right or to do well (Genesis 4:7). Then God warned if he chose not to “do well” sin would lurk at the door. Unfortunately, Cain did not receive God’s guidance.
This lesson is not about breaking down all the different types of sacrifices: animals or grain, burnt offerings, or peace offerings. The purpose is to answer these two questions:
- Why did the Father’s voice utter these words?
- Why were they spoken at specific times?
John the Baptist was of the tribe of Levi, establishing him as a direct descendant of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. How do we know this? Luke specifies that both of John’s parents were of the line of Aaron (Luke 1:5). In the Old Testament, one of the duties of the priest was to go before God and present sacrifices. It’s essential to understand this priestly duty because John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus could be seen as a priestly presentation of the ultimate sacrifice. The sacrifices in the Old Testament were established as a temporary resolution to one’s issue with sin. They were designed to point forward to Christ’s perfect and final sacrifice.
In the Old Testament, a priest could begin service at age thirty (Numbers 4:3). When He was thirty years of age, Jesus was baptized. It was the beginning of His public ministry.
On Mount Tabor, probably the mountain of the Transfiguration, Jesus was beginning his final journey to Jerusalem. As Jesus took His inner circle of disciples — Peter, James, and John — up to the mountaintop, Scripture describes the events these disciples experienced. The disciples saw Jesus transform into His future Glory, and next to Him, they saw Moses and Elijah alive and well. These two Old Testament figures represent the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah), together representing the entire Old Testament.
Jesus, appearing in His glory signified that He, Jesus, is superior to both the Law and the Prophets. His words fulfilled the words of the Old Testament prophecies. His ministry superseded the works of the Old Testament.
An Accepted Sacrifice
So, let’s answer the two questions: Why did the Father’s voice utter these words? And, why were they spoken at the times they were?
First, both times that the voice from the heavens came down, the timing was critical. At Jesus’ baptism, a voice from the clouds said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5). And, at the Transfiguration, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).
As I mentioned, an Old Testament sacrifice had to be perfect and without blemish. It had to be something of value and not an everyday object or animal that was ill or lame. However, for God to accept a sacrifice, the giver’s heart had to be right and the offering had to be given in faith.
When the Father looked down upon Jesus, His voice echoed the words of acceptance. As Jesus began His public ministry — the first steps of becoming the Lamb of God — the Father looked down and proclaimed that this sacrifice is acceptable to Me. As Jesus was beginning His final journey to Jerusalem, which concluded in His innocent blood being shed to pay the penalty for the guilt of your sins and my sins, the Father’s voice once again proclaimed, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased,” again announcing this sacrifice which is about to be offered as acceptable and, more importantly, received.
The audience at the time may have yet to understand the importance of these two events. Still, you and I can understand how God publicly accepted the sacrifice of His only Son for the atonement of all sins. The Old Testament sacrifices were a shadow of the things that were to come (Colossians 2:17). God said, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
Jesus is the perfect — without blemish — Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus is the ultimate and final sacrifice that provides forgiveness, not temporarily, but for eternity. He laid down His life willingly as He proclaimed: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18). Jesus’ once-for-all-time sacrifice was followed by His resurrection. He laid down His life and took it up again, providing eternal life for all who believed in Him and accepted His sacrifice for their sins. He did this out of love for the Father and for all those the Father has given Him (John 6:37-40).
The Father received the Son as the ultimate, acceptable, eternal sacrifice. God publicly proclaimed this!
Do you accept Jesus — the Son of God — as your Savior? Have you publicly declared your trust, faith, and love for Jesus?
Maranatha, Lord Jesus!