Few people are fortunate enough to have a father who was not only present but affectionate as well; one who was not only at athletic events but said that he was proud of you. Even better and far more rare, a father who expressed his love and pride in you even when you struck out, blew it on a test, or got fired - he loved you in the depths.
For most, simply hearing from their father would be a miracle. In a country where 1-in-3 kids will go to sleep tonight without a father, and in a state and county with a 60% divorce rate , this is the reality for many people. Maybe your father wasn’t present, or maybe when he was the only voice you ever heard was once of criticism or displeasure - pointing out all that you should’ve done or didn’t do. Maybe the voices who’ve filled that void have offered the carrot and stick of conditional love, only offering affection when their demands are met, and coldness when they are not.
The Voice of the Father
In Matthew 3:17 God the Father speaks. He says something of such immense importance that it helps to hear it in a few different ways.
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESV)
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (NLT)
A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.” (NiRV)
And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” (Message)
There are two important things to see in God’s words for his Son. First, they are a spotlight on Jesus. The Father says, “This is my Son, the One who I promised. If you want to know me, know him. If you want to understand how I work, listen to him. If you want to come to me, you must go through him."
Second, the timing of these words is crucial. God states his love, affection, and delight in his Son before he has done anything in his ministry. He hasn’t preached a sermon, healed a sick person, cast out a demon, calmed a storm, or raised anyone from the dead. God’s love is given prior to performance.
This is of immense importance because, through faith in Jesus, the words the Father speaks over his son are for you. Scripture is clear that God loved and chose us to be adopted before he created anything (Ephesians 1:4-5). God decided to make you his son or daughter millennia before you existed, before you could contribute anything to the equation, and in full knowledge of your sin (Ephesians 2:4-5). The sin that haunts you doesn’t surprise him. God didn’t only perform a transaction in salvation, he rescued you because he loves you. He doesn’t merely tolerate you, in Jesus, he enjoys you. You’re not an obligation, he wants you to know his love and pleasure today, and everyday (Ephesians 3:14-19).
The Silence at the Cross
How secure is that love? How can you be assured of it? Look to what length the Father went to make it possible. Jesus, his Son, whom he delights in, loves, and cherishes; had another conversation with his Father at the end of his ministry. On the cross, the guiltless dying for the guilty, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (NLT)
“My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” (NiRV)
The Father was silent. The beloved Son was rejected so that you could be accepted. He was cast off so you could be brought near. Jesus was cursed so that you could know the blessing of being the Father's beloved child. The Father will never withdraw his love from his children because Jesus’ death and resurrection has made them as acceptable, perfect, and delightful as him. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), not because he is obligated to but because he is a God who loved you at your worst, loved you enough to give up everything to make you his. That is love in the depths, and love in the depths is a love that is secure.