search icon search iconSearch A-Z Index Members IconMember Portal Members IconOnline Giving
Members Icon


Welcome to the First Presbyterian Church portal. Please choose an option below to see our events, small groups or to give online.


First Thoughts Blog

← Return to blog

Day 4

Baptism: I Delight to Do Your Will
Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 40:4-10, 16 
Blessed is the man who makes
   the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
   to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
   your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
   none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
   yet they are more than can be told.
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
   but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
   you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
   in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
   your law is within my heart.”
I have told the glad news of deliverance
   in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
   as you know, O LORD.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
   I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
   from the great congregation. . . .
But may all who seek you
   rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
   say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
What Is This Psalm About?
The Hebrew Scriptures abound in requirements for offerings and sacrifices. Blood represented life; the shed blood of an animal substituted for the persons who had sinned. The presentation of a firstborn animal or the first fruits of the harvest symbolized the offering of the worshiper’s whole life. People gave back a portion of what the LORD had given them in rich harvests and multiplying herds.
But these same Scriptures reveal that the actual sacrifices were not in themselves the endgame. They merely represented the giving of our very lives in joyful obedience to the Giver of Life. Rituals in themselves could become meaningless, begrudged, and so of no avail. What God has always wanted is the human heart enacting obedience from a free will inspired by love. Through the years, the LORD has saved his people from slavery, wilderness wanderings, food scarcity, enemies, sinfulness and all its consequences. In return, God desires our thanks and praise for the deepest purpose of humanity is grateful communion with the triune God.  
In Psalm 40, David gives thanks for the deliverances of the LORD. He desires to give himself to the One who has given him so much. In his prayer of joyful offering, he realizes the deeper truth in every external act of worship: “Sacrifice and offering you have not desired.” If only understood at face value, that prayer seems not to be true! God surely commanded particular offerings. But there was a deeper meaning: “I desire to do your will, O my God.” The yielded thankful heart would lead to a life of worship and service. David, as we know, could only aspire to such total devotion. It would remain for another to fulfill the true and total requirements of the law. 
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
Hebrews 10 places this psalm directly on Jesus’ lips! The setting is “when Christ came into the world” (vs. 5). Overall, this refers to the incarnation. This doing of his Father’s will is the whole journey of the Son of God as the man Jesus. He came as the second Adam, the beginning of a new human race. He came to live from the heart a perfect obedience expressed in giving away his life in love, all the way to his death.
In terms of a particular moment, I love to think of Jesus’ praying Psalm 40 as his cousin John baptizes him in the Jordan River. This is the hour of Christ’s public debut into his mission and ministry.
In the waters of the Jordan, Jesus submits to a sinners’ baptism, even though personally he has no sin. But as John pours water upon him, Jesus repents on our behalf. In baptism, he makes our sins his own and gives us the first look at what his ministry will be about. He will go about taking to himself and healing our diseases and brokenness, our afflictions and oppressions. Then at the last, he will bear the sins of the world upon the cross, being baptized in blood (Mark 10:39).
The ESV translates Psalm 40:6 as “you have given me an open ear,” meaning a receptivity to listening to the will and guidance of his Father. When Hebrews quotes this psalm, however, it uses the Greek translation of the Old Testament as “a body you have prepared for me” (Hebrews 10:5). That gives us a greater sense of how Jesus lived his whole flesh and blood life as a moment-by-moment sacrifice of obedience on our behalf. He joyfully affirms, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). 
Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan inaugurates the great promise of the new covenant made in Jeremiah 31:33. The LORD declares, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” Jesus is the only man who could truly say and live out, “I desire to do your will, O my God.” He reversed our first parents’ choice to do their own will. Jesus was fearfully and wonderfully made as the new Adam who offers himself completely in faithful love to his Father. 
So he could proclaim the “glad news of deliverance to the great congregation” he would gather. His first words recorded in Mark’s gospel declare, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Praying with Jesus
Lord Jesus, you came all the way down to us!
You left the harmony of heaven
For the cacophony of my rebel heart. 
You went under the waters 
Like a filthy sinner needing to be cleansed.
You consecrated yourself to your Father’s mission.
You offered yourself completely.
You lived as the first and only human
Who desired your Father’s will 
From the depths of your heart.
You are the new covenant
In which desire to live for God
Is written in the very heart of a new humanity.
You brought this news to the great congregation
Of men, women and children everywhere. 
Your joy in seeking your Father wholeheartedly
Overflows to us.
I love your salvation.
This day, I join my voice to yours, as forever
You say, with us and for us,
Great is the LORD!


Posted in: Lent