I am struck by a short passage from Mark 1:9-13. This is the story of Jesus coming to John and being baptized. Growing up in church, I had a picture of how this event took place. As Jesus was lowered into the water a bright light softly filled the whole area. Somewhere in the background you could hear the angels singing some Dark Ages composition. My picture continues with a dove like spirit slowly drifting down landing on Jesus and a deep rich voice declaring that Jesus is his son.
Nice and beautiful right? Well that was fine until I came across one word in verse 10. The New King James simply states that the heavens parted, however the New International Version does a better translation with “heaven being torn open”. The original language from which torn open comes means to cleave asunder, to split into fractions. In other words, it means to tear to shreds! By the way, this is the same word used to describe the curtain in the temple being torn apart.
The Holy Spirit did not softly descend onto Jesus; it literally tore heaven apart to quickly fall on him. I think there is something powerful found in this understanding. God, in sending the Holy Spirit onto Jesus, was eager to support and be with Jesus. The heavens were torn open so God could send his Spirit on Jesus, then Jesus was literally torn open as he hung on the cross and a spear split his side. Finally, the curtain was torn open from the top to the bottom to reveal God’s eagerness to give us access to him through Jesus. That is not a picture of a God that is way up in heaven somewhere watching from a distance.
Don’t believe for a second that God is a busy God or a distant God or even an impassionate God that is watching our world spin out of control, waiting for some abstract time for him to come and end all things. He will most certainly come and end all things, but until that time, he is involved and interested in your every breath. You can walk through your day knowing just how much God cares about us and is watching over every detail of our life.