If we spent some time together, it’s likely we’d soon learn what each other is passionate about. We make it known by what we say and how we say it. Imagine you were able to run all of your words spoken in a month through a concordance software. What would be the most common word you say? And, also consider, if you ran another query, what words would be most passionately spoken? Some of us might be encouraged by what we find, others perhaps, not as much.
Now consider the same exercise with God. What or who is God passionate about? When God speaks audibly from heaven in the New Testament, people took notice. And we should take note. On multiple occasions, his thundering voice shreds the skies and declares, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17, cf also Matt. 17:5). God is telling us that Christ is the delight of God.
And this is not a one-time deal. It’s not as if Christ became the delight of God at the baptism or transfiguration. Instead, Jesus is the eternal delight of his Father. Have you considered that love existed before creation? Since God is love (1 John 4:8), and he is uncreated, then love existed prior to any creation. Who or what did God love? The answer is God loved himself. Throughout eternity the Trinity was enveloped in perfect delight, enjoyment, and love as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When Jesus is born as a man, and his Father has something to say about him, it is a continuation of the divine satisfaction that has characterized heaven throughout all eternity.
Why is the Son the delight of God? I’ll give three quick reasons.
Jesus perfectly radiates the glory of God.
God is glorified through the right representation and reflection of his character. The Scriptures teach us Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3).
What does it mean that Christ is the radiance of the glory of God? The best way to understand it is to think about light radiating from a source instead of reflecting. The moon, without its source of light, reflects the light from the sun. It radiates from the sun. Jesus is not reflecting the glory of God back to God. He is not merely personifying glory like a cloud or fire. He is not merely doing the right thing and reflecting glory to God. He, being God, is the radiance, the effulgence, the source of the glory of God.
This is something of what the disciples saw when they were on the mountain with Jesus. His glory, which was normally veiled by his flesh, was unleashed. The glory of God is the delight of God.
Jesus willingly saves the lost.
My mind and heart explode when I think about the divine plan, commonly referred to as the covenant of redemption. In this arrangement or agreement, we have the Son willingly accepting the assignment of being the Redeemer.
Consider the magnitude of this. There was and is no one else who could bear this task. Only Christ is able. It is only Jesus who is qualified to bear the task of being the Redeemer. Only Christ could substitute himself as the one to bear the sins of man. Only Christ could fully bear and therefore satisfy all of the requirements of God’s wrath. Christ, and Christ alone, could offer himself through the eternal spirit (Heb. 9.14) and provide eternal redemption (Heb. 9.12).
What’s more, he was willing! Not only was Jesus qualified to take the mantle, he was willing. This drips with love from another land. This is truly heaven’s love invading earth. Christ loved us when we were unlovely (Rom. 5.6-11). His entire incarnation was motivated by a unique and pure love for God and love for the lost. Oh, how this melts our hearts!
Jesus loves us most and best of all. This is a delight to God, for God loves sinners (John 3:16).
Jesus magnified the law of God.
God loves his law because it reflects his character. We, of course, have sinned and broken God’s law. Jesus, coming as our representative, obeys the law perfectly in our place. He fully loves God and neighbors the way the law requires. He and he alone could say of his Father, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). The entire life of Christ magnifies the law of God by his perfect obedience to it. Think about this. Jesus never sins by omission (failing to do what the law required) or commission (doing what is forbidden). He always did what was pleasing to his Father.
Furthermore, Jesus gave his life to pay for our law-breaking. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Christ bore the full, unmitigated, wrath of God. On the cross, heaven’s artillery of justice was unloaded upon Christ. There was not one ounce spared. Only Jesus could declare with a triumphant victory, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus satisfied the wrath of God for sinners like you and me.
But take a step back from the cross and look at what you see. There is no doubt we behold the love of God as Christ suffers in our place. But do we not also see the holiness of God? The cross demonstrates what a holy God requires a perfect sacrifice. We also see his righteousness, because justice will not be satisfied apart from this perfect sacrifice. But what’s more, all of these attributes are on display at the same time. And, they are not contradicting one another. God does not sacrifice his justice in order to show his love. He does not compromise holiness in order to forgive. Christ magnifies the perfect, harmonious display of God’s character on the cross. He magnified the law and made it glorious!
What, then, is our response to a God who delights in Christ? It’s the same thing, isn’t it? We hear the Father’s loving declaration of delight in Jesus, and we answer back, "This is my beloved Savior, with whom I am well pleased!"
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at Erik's blog, Ordinary Pastor, and is used with permission.