Not long ago, Christianity Today published an article by covenant pastor, Jeff Long on Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1.  He noted that the word schizomeneous is used twice in Mark. The word means “to tear or cleave open.”  The Greek root schizo implies a violent, forceful act. The first is at the baptism of Jesus, when he, “saw heaven being torn open.”   The other occurrence is at the time of the crucifixion, when “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38).

I appreciate Pastor Long’s insight: “Two tearings: the first so that Jesus’ mission to reconcile the world to God would be founded on the Father’s love; the second so that we have access to God and know his extravagant love for us.  In both instances, God disrupted reality to reveal his personal, loving nature.”  Long goes on to say, “I’m learning to live in the light of the truth that I have a Father who fights for me, who would tear open the heavens for me if necessary…”

The event of Jesus’ baptism reveals God as a Father who acts on our behalf, not only with loving kindness, but also with a forceful initiative.  God spoke in such a way that the heavens were torn open.  The people of God had been waiting for 400 years for  God to speak.  The decisive voice from heaven gave John confirmation, as he took up the mantle as the prophetic forerunner of Jesus, saying of himself. “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'” (John 1:23).  The voice of the Father also gave Jesus assurance of his father’s love, becoming the very foundation of his ministry.  “The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing.  What the Father does, the Son does.  The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing” (John 5:19-20 – Message).

Men, our heavenly Father breaks through our clouded, distorted present reality to convey to us the assurance of his love.   He declares, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).  Ultimately for each man, we need to still and quiet our souls so that we can hear for ourselves the certainty of his love for us.  Remember God is able to break through our present reality, which include  illusions we have come to believe regarding our unworthiness.  Words about God’s love can be heard repeatedly, but until we receive this truth in our souls, we live with nagging doubt.  Only God’s love can break through your false reality confirming our worthiness to be “the beloved of the Father.”  Men let yourself be loved by your Father.

The second tear happened when the curtain was torn in the temple, symbolizing our way back to the Father.   Men, please receive this truth.  Jesus died a violent, shameful death for you, so that you can now come directly and freely right into the presence of the Father.  Hear me – there is no condemnation in his presence.  “The truth is that no condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are ‘in’ Christ Jesus. For the new spiritual principle of life ‘in’ Christ Jesus lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death” (Rom 8:1 – Phillips).  We can come with absolute confidence.  “So, friends, we can now – without hesitation – walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’  Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God.  The ‘certain’ into God’s presence is his body” (Heb 10:19-21 – Message).