The Heavens Were Opened


Romans 5:1–11 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
John 4:29–42 ESV
“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Last week: Communion
Big Idea: Jesus set an example of humility, even during an event that showed his divinity
Luke 3:15–22 ESV
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison. 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.”
All four gospels teach us about the baptism of Jesus:
Matthew 3:13–17 ESV
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Compared to Luke, Matthew’s account adds more information. That John was perplexed by Jesus coming to be baptized:
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance
John recognizes Jesus has no need for repentance, but John does
Jesus will later take on the sin of mankind. For now, he is identifying with those he came to save, and showing that he has humility
Matthew does not mention, as Luke did, that Jesus was in prayer during this:
Jesus was always in complete union with the Father and the Spirit.
Matthew records “This is my beloved Son” Luke records “You are my beloved Son;”
Not a conflict.
The gospel records are not always intended to convey exact language in the narratives
Both accounts show that Jesus was affirmed, or endorsed, by a real heavenly voice
Mark 1:9–11 ESV
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark notes not only the heavens were opened, they were torn open. This indicates a little more than a mere parting of the clouds.
John 1:32–34 ESV
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
John the gospel writer focuses on John the Baptist and his clear testimony that he was not the Christ. However, John reveals that God had told him the sign he would see that would show him who the Christ was. He would see the Spirit descend and remain on him.
Jesus last to be baptized. And even then, after John had objected.
All the people were baptized, then Jesus was baptized. The first shall be last and the last first. Jesus demonstrated humility
Jesus was praying:
Jesus is our greatest model for prayer
It was his constant habit
He prayed so we should
The Heavens opened: Mark1.10
Mark 1:10 ESV
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
Mark uses the word torn,
The heavens opening is a sign of great significance. It is an indication that God is communing with people in some way.
Ezekiel 1:1 ESV
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
Stephen said he saw the heavens opened when he was being stoned to death for his witness about Jesus. Jesus said to Nathanael that he would see heaven opened, and the angels f God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Peter saw the heavens open when he saw the vision of the sheets of food.
And of course, who saw the angels ascending and descending? Jacob! He dreamed of a ladder. Gen28.12-13
Genesis 28:12–13 ESV
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.
The Lord stood above it. Jesus was a much more real fulfillment of Jacob’s dream than anything else we could attribute to it, because he truly is the one who opens heaven for all who believe in him.
Finally, the heavens are going to open again: Rev19.11
Revelation 19:11 ESV
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
Dove: Could symbolize purity, innocence, peace
We should not believe the Holy Spirit is a bird. He didn’t look like a dove, he descended like a dove. Many Christians use the dove image to represent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a bird. The language here has to do with how the Holy Spirit ascended, it is not about a visual look.
We cannot be sure what was seen here, since this description has to do with motion, not physicality.
Did Jesus receive the Spirit here for the first time?
Jesus always had the Spirit in full measure. He had lived sinlessly. No one without the Spirit could be so guided and empowered. Jesus had the full measure of the Spirit. So what happened here?
He was being commissioned, or recognized, for people to see. This account is a powerful display of God’s favor and recognition of Jesus as His true Son and the True Christ.
This was his public anointing:
Isaiah 61:1 ESV
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Luke 4:18 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
Acts 10:38 ESV
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Isaiah 42:1 ESV
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
Voice from Heaven: An apocalyptic theme:
Revelation 4:1 ESV
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 10:4 ESV
And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”
Revelation 10:8 ESV
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
Revelation 11:12 ESV
Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.
Revelation 14:13 ESV
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Isaiah 6:4 ESV
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isaiah 6:8 ESV
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Ezekiel 1:25 ESV
And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings.
The Beloved Son:
Some have likened this language to that used of Isaac. Jesus was the only son, so was Isaac Abraham’s only son:
Genesis 22:2 ESV
He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
God tested Abraham by asking him to offer his only son as a sacrifice, knowing he would stop him before he did it. But God himself gave his own son as a sacrifice.
Jesus told a parable about a landowner who sent servants to receive payment from his tenants. They killed three servants, and then the owner of the vineyard sent his son
Luke 20:13 ESV
Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’
They threw out the son an killed him. This was a sort of prophetic parable. God has sent prophets and judges and kings, and the people had not listened. He sent his son and many still did not listen.
The presence of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus
All three members of the Trinity are mentioned as having a significance in the Baptism of Jesus: The Son was baptized, the Spirit descended, and the Father spoke.
The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition (Chapter II. Of God, and of the Holy Trinity)
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
There is much to learn from this passage:
Jesus was humble and waited to be baptized after all the people had come before him
His baptism was to show his complete obedience
We see that he was in constant prayer: Prayer is effective
The Heavens were opened; they will be opened again
The Holy Spirit is not a bird,
The Holy Spirit was already with Jesus, this was an anointing
The Voice of God is further evidence of the truth of the gospel of Jesus
He was a son, and approved of. A sinless life
The Father is well-please with his obedient Son
We can experience relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God the Father directs and elects those who are saved.
The Son is our propitiation and expiation
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!
Romans 8:9–11 ESV
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
What must we do, then?
We must believe. (Repent and Believe)
We must be baptized. (in Obedience and as a public proclamation of our faith)
We must live our lives in honor of him.
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