The Heavens Opened!

Luke 3.21-22 “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

This event transitions Jesus from being a regular person (humanly speaking) into public ministry as the Messiah. This event has five key elements:

  • People were coming out to see John the Baptist in the wilderness and being baptized 
  • Jesus was baptized while he was praying 
  • Heaven opened 
  • The Holy Spirit, in the physical form of a dove descended (and landed upon Jesus, John 1.32). 
  • God the Father spoke: You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased 

This event carries with it an example that we should follow: while Jesus was praying, He was baptized. 

This event carries with it a result that pictures what we receive when we are saved: The Holy Spirit descends upon us and rests upon us and the Father is pleased with us. 


It’s Time! Let’s Roll!

This event kicks off Jesus’ public ministry. The purpose of His ministry was to save the lost. This act of Jesus’ baptism and the response of God the Father carries with it the picture of what occurs with all of us when we are saved.

The example of Jesus is seen and testified in many ways in the book Luke. The story of Zacchaeus especially captured my attention as I cross referenced many passages. In Luke 19, Jesus has an encounter with Zacchaeus, the tax collector.  

Within the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus revealed His purpose on earth: He came to seek and to save that which was lost, (19.10). This is significant. 

Zacchaeus was lost. Jesus sought him out and saved him. The story is brief. Jesus looked at Zacchaeus and said, Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house. And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly, (19;5,6). 

Just like Zacchaeus, Jesus ‘seeks’ us out, and by faith, when we respond with gladness, some truly amazing things take place. My premise is that the baptism of Jesus gives a picture of what occurs when we are saved. (In a sense, what happens behind the scenes).

The text doesn’t say that Zacchaeus was physically baptized. That probably came later on the day of Pentecost, after Jesus ascended, Acts 3. Nevertheless, just like Jesus modeled, (while He was praying, He was baptized), Zacchaeus was speaking with Jesus and his heart was immersed and washed and He was saved.  

And Jesus said to him (Zacchaeus), Today. Salvation has come to this house, Luke 19.9. 

In the story of Zacchaeus, at the point he was saved, there’s a few things that didn’t happen:

  • The heavens didn’t open up 
  • The Holy Spirit as a dove didn’t descend upon him 
  • God didn’t speak to Zacchaeus and say He was pleased with him.  

None of that happened to Zaccheus as it did with Jesus. Or did it? 

Did the heavens open up when Zacchaeus was saved?  

  • I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents, Luke 15.10. 

Did the Holy Spirit descend and rest upon Zaccheus?  

  • In Romans, Paul says but if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, Romans 8.11. 

Did God the Father speak and say that He was pleased with Zacchaeus? 

  • In Romans 2:29, Paul teaches that the real children of God are those whose hearts have been transformed. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not the letter (the law), and his praise is not from men, but from God. In the story of Zacchaeus, it says that the people of the village began to grumble about Zacchaeus. Zaccheus’ praise was not from men, but from God. 

Jesus’ baptism portrays a full and beautiful picture of what Jesus did in the life of Zacchaeus and in all of our lives who receive Jesus by faith.

  • Our sins are buried 
  • We are raised to a new life 
  • Heaven rejoices 
  • The Spirit comes upon us 
  • God is satisfied and pleased with us. 

Paul sums it up perfectly in Titus 3.5: 

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared (when Jesus came to earth), He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. 


Father, forgive us for not always realizing and acknowledging just how much You have done for us. The story of Jesus’ baptism gives us a renewed realization of ALL you have given to us. Yes, it was a unique experience of Jesus, marking the beginning of His public ministry. But it opens our eyes to what You have done for us as well. May we reflect today on the beautiful reality that heaven rejoices over our salvation, You have given us Your Holy Spirit and because of Christ in us, You are pleased with us. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Amen!