Love vs. Pleasure

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” If you've read the Gospels, you know this verse is at the end of Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism by John. The heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and rested on Jesus. Then a voice came from the heavens with those words. "This is my Son, whom I love."

But notice that the voice didn't stop there. "with him I am well pleased." I never caught the distinction before. Why not just stop with declaring His love for His Son?

And then I thought about God's love for all of us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16) emphasis mine

God loves everyone in the whole world - no exceptions. His love is unconditional. His love always believes, always hopes, always endures. His love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)

But His pleasure is another matter altogether. And I think that is why God said both were true of His Son. The Father loved his Son, and He was well pleased with him.

Jonah 2:8 says: "Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them."

God loves us, but He doesn't force us to love Him in return. He allows us choice. And we have our lifetime to choose whether to accept and return that love which He offers to us freely.

King David said in Psalm 51: "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

In Genesis, God regretted that He had made human beings because their thoughts were only evil continually. Evil does not please Him. Nor does it please Him when we turn away from His love.

The prophet Micah proclaimed: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Jesus pleased His Father because He obeyed Him, because He loved Him in return. And He came to do His Father's will. And I think that is why God made the distinction between His love and His pleasure. God loves us all. But we only please Him when we love Him in return.