Jesus arrives and is baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. Immediately we are told that he, John the Baptist, “saw the heavens being torn open,” (v. 10). This doesn’t mean that a little door in the sky suddenly opened up so that God can send us a message from “up there” in Heaven. “Heaven” in the Bible means more the dimension of God’s active engagement with our reality that we are often oblivious too. Its more like an invisible curtain, right in front of us, that gets pulled back so that we can see something that is occurring before our very eyes. New Testament scholar Richard Hays as written:
First, the world according to Mark is a world torn open by God. From the moment when the heavens are torn apart (shizomenous) at Jesus’ baptism (1:10) to the moment when the curtain of the Temple is torn (eschisthe) in two at his death (15:38), this is a story of God’s powerful incursion into the created order. (Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, 88.).
N.T. Wright has said “A good deal of Christian faith is a matter of learning to live by this different reality even when we can’t see it.” (N.T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, 5.). And what do we hear that accompanies this tearing into our reality by this different way of seeing things:
“Behold My Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Can you even imagine hearing that from God? Try reading that sentence, with your own name at the start, and reflect on God saying that to you. Can you hear it? How could this be true of you and I?
It’s true for one simple reason – Jesus is the Messiah, and the Messiah is one who represents His people. He is the anointed one who comes and achieves and does for his people what his people couldn’t do for themselves (see Daniel 9). Sure, the Old Testament is full of figures who served somewhat in this capacity (like David defeating Goliath and winning a victory for the entire people of Israel, 1 Samuel 17), but none quite measure up to this one who would come. With Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, what is true of him becomes true for those who believe in Him.