I want to ask you three questions. First, do you think that it would be a help to you in your Christian life to know how much Jesus is for you in your struggle against sin? To know just how closely He has identified himself to you and with you in your struggle against sin? Well, then this passage is for you today, because the baptism of Jesus is about His identification with you in the struggle against sin.

Do you think it might help you in the Christian life if you wanted to pray more, and you were more disciplined in the way that you talked with your heavenly Father? Do you think it might help if your practice of prayer was something that you always longed to be engaged in, that you wanted to be talking to your heavenly Father? Well, then this passage is for you, because Luke deliberately draws our attention to Jesus' prayer in order to help you, His people.

Here's my third question. Do you think that it might help in your Christian life to know how much your heavenly Father loves you? To actually sense experientially your Father's delight in you, the way He takes pleasure in you, the way He pours out His affection and love upon you? If so, this passage is for you because it not only displays the Father's affection for the Son, it displays the Father's affection for His children that is enabled to come to the fullness of its fruition because of the work of the Son.

It's those three things that I want to look at with you today: baptism; prayer; and affection. Let's walk through them together.

1. Baptism

First of all, look at what Luke says in verse 21:

"Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized..."

That's his description of the baptism of Jesus. That's it. Luke doesn't even tell you who baptized Him! The other gospel writers make it clear that it was John the Baptist that performed this baptism, but Luke is wanting to zero you in on one thing in particular, and it's the one thing he mentions. Listen: "When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized."

What's Luke drawing your attention to? Jesus' identification with the people.

Do you remember what John says when Jesus comes out on this day when He's baptized? When Jesus is coming towards him, he says, "Look! Behold! He is the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world." Now there's your clue right there. Jesus is baptized at the same time these others are baptized; who were baptized because they have repented and confessed their sins. And He takes on the same symbol that they take in order to indicate to them not that He needs forgiveness of sins, but that He is going to provide for them and for you and me the forgiveness that we know that we need. You couldn't have identified Jesus more closely with needy sinners than giving him the very sign that was given to needy sinners.

And I want to ask you today, do you realize how closely identified He is to you and with you in your sin? So that those sins that you hope no one ever discovers - your deepest sin, your deepest shames, your deepest humiliations, your greatest offenses - He says, "I'm taking those on myself for you." So when you fear that there are sins that can put you outside the reach of God's grace, He's saying "You trust in Me and I will take that sin on me" Jesus has been baptized with the baptism of sinners. He's identified Himself with you. Look to Him and be saved.

II. Prayer

And then there's prayer. Did you notice how Luke gets there? "Now when all the people had been baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying...."

That's so typical of Luke. Luke is constantly drawing your attention to Jesus' patterns of prayer. Luke's very interested in the prayer life, the prayer practice, and the patterns of prayer in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why do you think that Jesus wanted to pray? Do you think it's because He needed to ask God's forgiveness of His sins? No. Do you think it was because somebody told Him that He had to? My friends, the prayer of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Luke is the prayer of one who likes to talk to His heavenly Father. He loves to commune with His heavenly Father. The reason that He wants to do it is because He has an affection for His heavenly Father. He loves His heavenly Father. He wants, He needs, to talk to His heavenly Father.

Jesus wants to and He plans to and He practices speaking with God, conversing with God, praying to God, and it's an example to us.

III. Affection

One last thing. It's the most important thing: the affection of the heavenly Father in this passage for Jesus. It's the thing that Luke spends most of his words on. You see it at the end of verse 21 and all the way through verse 22. When Jesus is baptized, what happens? Heaven is opened and down comes the Holy Spirit in bodily form, Luke says.

What does the Father say about Jesus? "You are My beloved Son. I am pleased with You. I love you. All of My affection is for You."

Now, my friends, you understand that Jesus by His baptism has so identified with you as sinners that not only when you trust on Him are you forgiven for your sins because they are transferred to Him, but you are now brought into a new relationship to His heavenly Father because all of His benefits are transferred to you.

And one of the greatest of those benefits is that now His heavenly Father's love for Him is gifted to you.

I know that there are Christians reading this - lovely people, godly people, faithful - who have a hard time experiencing that kind of love. Frankly, you have a hard time believing that God loves you in that way. And here's what God's word has to say to you. Look at the cross. You see that cross? That cross is not only the means by which God has secured your everlasting redemption; it is the display of the costly love that your heavenly Father has shown you in His Son, and that the Son has shown to you in order that you might experience the costly and extravagant love of the Father for you.

There in the baptism of Jesus Christ, the very words spoken to Him ("You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased") are a portent of the words that the Father will speak to all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ on the Last Day, for when you gain those portals you will hear Him say, "Well, done, good and faithful servant. Now, my child in Jesus Christ, you are my beloved, and in you I take pleasure. I delight in you."