“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This was a powerful moment. It was powerful in a couple of ways. Spiritually speaking, this was a powerful affirmation of Jesus’ identity before the people. Many, many people had been baptized that day and this hadn’t happened to any of them. It was also powerful personally. Jesus got a message from His Father affirming His identity. The spiritual side of the experience may have been important to the people around Him, but the personal affirmation would have meant the most to Him. There’s just something about hearing our parent—especially our dad—affirm who we are that means the world.
If you are a parent, when was the last time you really affirmed your kids’ identity? Let’s face it: Parenting is tough. Kids push our buttons. All of them. Multiple times a day…sometimes an hour. It’s so easy to get caught in a pattern of riding them like a horse straight into the ground. We know who they are, but when we spend all our time living moment to moment and going from crisis to crisis we can lose sight of the bigger picture.
God the Father affirmed His Son here in three ways we would do well to practice more diligently with our own kids than I suspect most of us do. And I should add that this affirmation needs to go beyond mere Facebook shoutouts. When the Father spoke from heaven as Jesus came up out of the waters, He said this: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
He affirmed Jesus’ identity as His Son. Our kids need to know that we claim them. Bedtime is often a challenge in our house. Once we’ve gotten over the initial hump and are lying in bed, if one of the boys gets up we’ll sometimes chuckle and say, “Your child is out of bed. Mine is being good and staying in his.” In the moment it’s harmless fun and we don’t mean it, but our kids need to know we’re proud enough of them to claim them publicly as our own. They’re not just anybody’s kids, they are our kids.
God the Father also affirmed His love for Jesus. Do your kids know you love them? I know the knee-jerk response is that of course they do, but how often do you tell them? I’ve known kids whose parents operated on the principle of showing more than telling. Showing is good, but we need to tell them. Often. Remind your kids regularly that you love them and that there isn’t anything they can do to make you love them any less. Remind them of that especially when they’ve done something to earn your frustration and anger. Remind them publicly and privately. Make sure they don’t have any doubts about this.
Finally, God the Father affirmed His pleasure with His Son. He said, “With you I am well pleased.” Our kids want to please us. They want to please us unless they’ve learned they can’t. They shouldn’t learn that. When was the last time you really praised your kids? When they’ve done a good job, let them know. When they’ve given a good effort, let them know.
There are times when we need to fuss at our kids. There are times when they’ve done wrong. But the overall picture they need from us is our affirmation. Affirmation of who they are, of who God made them to be. Let our shaping of them be done with love as our guide and path.