“This is my Son . . . Listen to him.”—MATT. 17:5.
SONG 89 Listen, Obey, and Be Blessed
1-2. (a) How has Jehovah communicated with humans? (b) What will we consider in this article?
JEHOVAH loves to communicate with us. In the past, he used prophets, angels, and his Son, Christ Jesus, to convey his thoughts to us. (Amos 3:7; Gal. 3:19; Rev. 1:1) Today, he communicates with us through his Word, the Bible. He gave it to us so that we can learn his thinking and understand his ways.
2 When Jesus was on earth, Jehovah spoke from heaven on three occasions. Let us consider what Jehovah said, what we can learn from his words, and how we benefit from what he said.
“YOU ARE MY SON, THE BELOVED”
3. As we read at Mark 1:9-11, what did Jehovah say when Jesus got baptized, and what important facts did those words confirm?
3 Mark 1:9-11 records the first occasion when Jehovah spoke from heaven. (Read.) He said: “You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.” How it must have touched Jesus’ heart to hear his Father’s voice expressing love and reassurance to him! Jehovah’s words confirmed three important facts about Jesus. First, Jesus is his Son. Second, Jehovah loves his Son. And third, Jehovah has approved his Son. Let us look at each one closely.
4. What new relationship with God did Jesus enter into at his baptism?
4 “You are my Son.” With these words, Jehovah indicated that his beloved Son, Jesus, had entered into a new relationship with Him. While Jesus was in heaven, he was a spirit son of God. However, at his baptism, he was anointed by holy spirit. At that time, God indicated that Jesus as His anointed Son now had the hope of returning to heaven to become God’s appointed King and High Priest. (Luke 1:31-33; Heb. 1:8, 9; 2:17) So at Jesus’ baptism, his Father had good reason to say: “You are my Son.”—Luke 3:22.
5. How can we imitate Jehovah’s example in expressing love and approval?
5 “You are . . . the beloved.” Jehovah’s example in expressing love and approval reminds us to look for opportunities to encourage others. (John 5:20) We blossom when someone we care about shows love to us and commends us for the good we do. Likewise, our brothers and sisters in the congregation and our family members need our love and encouragement. When we commend others, we strengthen their faith and help them to serve Jehovah loyally. Parents especially need to encourage their children. When parents commend their children sincerely and show them affection, they help their children to flourish.
6. Why can we have confidence in Jesus Christ?
6 “I have approved you.” These words show that Jehovah was confident that Jesus would faithfully carry out his Father’s will. Jehovah has such confidence in his Son, so we can likewise be completely confident that Jesus will faithfully carry out all of Jehovah’s promises. (2 Cor. 1:20) When we consider Jesus’ example, we are even more determined to learn from him and to follow in his footsteps. Jehovah is equally confident that, as a group, his servants will continue to learn from his Son.—1 Pet. 2:21.
“LISTEN TO HIM”
7. According to Matthew 17:1-5, on which occasion did Jehovah speak from heaven, and what did he say?
7 Read Matthew 17:1-5. The second time Jehovah spoke from heaven was when Jesus “was transfigured.” Jesus had invited Peter, James, and John to accompany him up into a high mountain. While there, they saw a remarkable vision. Jesus’ face shone brightly and his clothes glistened. Two figures, representing Moses and Elijah, began talking to Jesus about his coming death and resurrection. Although the three apostles were “weighed down with sleep,” they saw this amazing vision when they were fully awake. (Luke 9:29-32) Next, a bright cloud covered them, and they heard a voice from the cloud—God’s voice! As at Jesus’ baptism, Jehovah expressed his approval of his Son and his love for him, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” But this time Jehovah added: “Listen to him.”
8. What effect did the vision have on Jesus and the disciples?
8 The vision gave a preview of Jesus’ future glory and power as King of God’s Kingdom. No doubt, Christ was encouraged and fortified for the sufferings and painful death he would endure. The vision also built up the disciples’ faith and strengthened them for the tests of integrity and years of hard work that lay ahead. Some 30 years later, the apostle Peter referred to the vision of the transfiguration, showing that the vision was still vivid in his mind.—2 Pet. 1:16-18.
9. What practical counsel did Jesus give his disciples?
9 “Listen to him.” Jehovah made it clear that he wants us to listen to his Son’s words and obey them. What did Jesus say when he was on earth? He said many things worth listening to! For example, he lovingly taught his followers how to preach the good news, and he repeatedly reminded them to keep on the watch. (Matt. 24:42; 28:19, 20) He also urged them to exert themselves vigorously, and he encouraged them not to give up. (Luke 13:24) Jesus stressed the need for his followers to love one another, to remain united, and to observe his commandments. (John 15:10, 12, 13) What practical counsel Jesus gave his disciples! That counsel is just as valid today as it was when Jesus gave it.
10-11. How can we show that we are listening to Jesus?
10 Jesus said: “Everyone who is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37) We show that we are listening to his voice when we “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.” (Col. 3:13; Luke 17:3, 4) We further show that we are listening to his voice by zealously preaching the good news “in favorable times and difficult times.”—2 Tim. 4:2.
11 Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice.” (John 10:27) Christ’s followers show that they listen to Jesus by not only paying attention to his words but also acting on them. They are not distracted by the “anxieties of life.” (Luke 21:34) Rather, they make obeying Jesus’ commands a priority in life, even in the face of challenging circumstances. Many of our brothers are enduring severe trials, including attacks by opposers, extreme poverty, and natural disasters. Through it all, they remain faithful to Jehovah, cost what it may. To them, Jesus gives the following assurance: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. In turn, whoever loves me will be loved by my Father.”—John 14:21.
12. What is another way we can show that we are listening to Jesus?
12 Here is another way we can show that we are listening to Jesus: by cooperating with those whom he has appointed to take the lead among us. (Heb. 13:7, 17) God’s organization has made many adjustments in recent years, including the use of new tools and methods in our ministry, the format of our midweek meeting, and the way we build, renovate, and maintain our Kingdom Halls. How we appreciate the loving and carefully thought-out guidance! We can be sure that Jehovah will bless our efforts to follow the organization’s timely direction.
13. What are the benefits of listening to Jesus?
13 We benefit from listening to all the things Jesus taught. Jesus assured his disciples that his teachings would refresh them. “You will find refreshment for yourselves,” he said. “For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) God’s Word, which includes the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, refreshes us, restores our spiritual strength, and makes us wise. (Ps. 19:7; 23:3) Jesus stated: “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—Luke 11:28.
‘I WILL GLORIFY MY NAME’
14-15. (a) What was the third occasion, related at John 12:27, 28, on which Jehovah spoke from heaven? (b) Why would Jehovah’s words have comforted and strengthened Jesus?
14 Read John 12:27, 28. The Gospel of John records a third occasion on which Jehovah spoke from heaven. A few days before his death, Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate his last Passover. “I am troubled,” he said. Then he prayed: “Father, glorify your name.” In response, his Father spoke from heaven: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
15 Jesus was troubled because of the great responsibility he had to remain faithful to Jehovah. Jesus was aware that he was going to suffer a brutal scourging and a cruel death. (Matt. 26:38) More than all else, Jesus wanted to glorify his Father’s name. Jesus was charged with blasphemy, and he was concerned that his death would bring reproach on God. How reassuring Jehovah’s words must have been to Jesus! He could be sure that Jehovah’s name would be glorified. His Father’s words must have done much to comfort Jesus and strengthen him for what was to come. Although Jesus may have been the only one present who understood what his Father said at that time, Jehovah made sure that His words were recorded for all of us.—John 12:29, 30.
16. Why may we at times be concerned about the reproach on God’s name?
16 Like Jesus, we too may be concerned about reproach brought on Jehovah’s name. Perhaps like Jesus, we are victims of unjust treatment. Or we may be disturbed by false stories that opposers spread about us. We may think about the reproach these reports bring on Jehovah’s name and his organization. At such times, Jehovah’s words are of great comfort to us. We need not be unduly anxious. We can be sure that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and [our] mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6, 7) Jehovah will never fail to glorify his name. By means of the Kingdom, he will reverse all the damage that Satan and this world bring on His faithful servants.—Ps. 94:22, 23; Isa. 65:17.
BENEFIT FROM JEHOVAH’S VOICE TODAY
17. In line with Isaiah 30:21, how does Jehovah speak to us today?
17 Jehovah is still speaking to us today. (Read Isaiah 30:21.) True, we do not hear God speak to us from heaven. He has, however, provided his written Word, the Bible, in which he gives us instruction. Additionally, Jehovah’s spirit moves “the faithful steward” to keep giving His servants their food supply. (Luke 12:42) What an abundance of spiritual food we receive in the form of printed and online material, videos, and audio publications!
18. How do Jehovah’s words build your faith and give you courage?
18 Let us keep in mind the words that Jehovah spoke when his Son was on earth! May God’s own words, as recorded in the Bible, give us confidence that Jehovah has everything under control and that he will reverse any damage brought on us by Satan and his wicked world. And may we be determined to listen intently to Jehovah’s voice. If we do, we will successfully endure whatever problems we now face and any challenges that are yet to come. The Bible reminds us: “You need endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.”—Heb. 10:36.
SONG 4 “Jehovah Is My Shepherd”
^ par. 5 When Jesus was on earth, Jehovah spoke from heaven on three occasions. On one of those occasions, Jehovah urged Christ’s disciples to listen to his Son. Today, Jehovah speaks to us by means of his written Word, which includes the teachings of Jesus, as well as by means of his organization. This article will consider how we benefit from listening to Jehovah and to Jesus.
^ par. 52 PICTURE DESCRIPTIONS: An elder notices a ministerial servant helping to maintain the Kingdom Hall and working at the literature counter. The elder offers warm commendation.
^ par. 54 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A couple in Sierra Leone give a meeting invitation to a local fisherman.
^ par. 56 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Witnesses in a country where our work is restricted meet in a private home. They are dressed casually to avoid drawing attention to themselves.