Signs of His Pleasure

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

There may be nothing that so clearly combines the horizontal and the vertical as the ordinance of baptism. It is certainly a physical act that involves water, and at least two people—the one baptizing and the one being baptized. But it is so much more than just what can be seen with the eyes. Anyone who has been in a pool has playfully dunked someone or been dunked; however, just getting wet isn’t baptism.
The Apostle Peter makes it clear in 1 Peter 3:19-21, that the waters of baptism are not about removing dirt from the body. That’s a horizontal view of water. Rather, they are a picture of the pledge of a clear conscience before God and an intentional commitment to Him. Peter’s words give an excellent understanding of the baptism of Jesus. John didn’t want to baptize Jesus, not understanding why it was necessary. Jesus, however, insisted that John baptize Him. In a very real sense, Jesus said, “Let me make my pledge of a clear conscience toward the Father.”
For almost all of us, the immediate effect of baptism is not visible physically (aside from being wet). We believe by faith that God has done something of eternal significance in us as we obeyed His Word. At Jesus’ baptism though, there came a confirmation from heaven that His pledge was heard. The Spirit descended like a dove, and a voice from above declared God’s pleasure with His Son.
When we do that which pleases the Father, we need to be paying attention for signs of His pleasure. A voice from heaven would be rare. Our job is simply to obey and then watch and see what the Lord is doing with our obedience. Our faith response typically takes a horizontal act of obedience. The activity of the Holy Spirit allows the horizontal to intersect the vertical . . . and God the Father is pleased.

Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.

Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?

Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.

Ask: I thank You, Lord, that You have gone ahead of me in every way. You lead me not just by Your words, but by Your actions. You take me into the water and allow me to rise with You in Your resurrection. You are First Born! I am delighted to follow You everywhere You lead. Like You, may I please the Father and someday hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


  • Today, try to focus on being consistently aware that Jesus lives in you . . . seeing, hearing and experiencing life with you. At the end of the day, journal how you lived your life differently by cultivating this awareness more intentionally.
  • Who do you know that needs a kind word from the heart of Jesus today? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring someone to mind who could use encouragement, comfort or strengthening for a task that lies ahead. Take time to be like Christ in this person’s life today.
  • Be very attentive to the voice of God today . . . as you read Scripture, as you go about your everyday activity, and as you seek Him in prayer. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and obey whatever He tells you to do.

Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.