Friday 6 January 2023
Day of penance
1 John 5:5-13. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20. Mark 1:7-11.
‘You are my Son, the Beloved’
Disembodied voices don’t come resounding from heaven much in the Bible. And throughout scripture, God’s voice isn’t typically described as being audible to all. But this is an important episode in the life of Jesus: God the father explaining how pleased he is with Jesus the son after he is baptised. Yet it’s almost treated as a throwaway line of dialogue spoken by the Almighty, that passes without wider comment.
A few OT prophets such as Moses, Elijah and Samuel spoke to God and heard God speaking audibly back. But this was a crowd of people. Everyone heard this voice. So what was this voice like? Was it loud or soft? Elijah describes God speaking with a ‘still small voice’ and I wonder if that is what was heard that day. Whatever it was, this detail did not seem important enough to note at the time, beyond the fact of it happening at all. It’s easy to look over how bizarre this must have been to bystanders. The voice was not addressing the crowds; it was speaking to Jesus alone.
It’s worth noting that Jesus hasn’t done much in the way of ministry at this point. He’d been a carpenter and, we imagine, frequent interlocutor with rabbis at the synagogue. God was ‘well-pleased’ with Jesus for what he was, not for what he had done, in the same way any loving parent might dote on a beloved child.