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Revealing the Son



January 7, 2024 |Revealing the Son|Mark 1:9-11

JD Cutler


Click here for the sermon audio


Recently, while we had some friends over, we were sitting in the kitchen while the kids were playing and we heard the dreaded sounds of a crash, a cry out of pain, and the chorus of ‘I didn’t do anything.’ Parents, you know what I am talking about, don’t you?

So Lincoln gets ushered in by some of the kids and he has his hand over his mouth. Before he takes it off, the chorus of kids tell us he hit his face on the floor, the concrete floors. I was ready to see a busted lip or a mouth full of blood, but when he did take his hand away, none of us were ready for what we saw. Where two perfectly cute front teeth once were, there were 1 and ½ teeth, one broken off about half way up. Now, Brittany will tell you I am not good with injuries in the first place, but in that moment I realized how unprepared I was to deal with this particular situation. I did not know that teeth injuries would upset me so much! But now I know. 


In life, there are these moments that reveal things about us, right?

Whether it reveals a glaring inability to deal with a situation or like in Brittany’s case, an uncanny ability to stay calm and deal with emergencies. 


Most of the time, the bigger the moment, the bigger the revelation. 

Moments in a newly married couple’s life will often reveal things about themselves that they weren't even aware of. College, difficult tests, the birth of your first child, moving into your first house, these moments have a way of revealing things about us. 


We can even summarize our lives by these big moments, can’t we?

Looking back these moments make up the things we remember, milestones we count time by, things we celebrate. 

I say all of that to say this, if you can understand that, that events have ways of revealing things about ourselves you can better understand Mark’s gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry which is helpful since we will be spending a lot of time in his gospel this year. Open your Bibles to Mark 1 this morning. 


His is the shortest of all the gospels and when you compare it to the other synoptic gospels of Matthew and Luke, he focuses much more intently on narrating the mighty works of Jesus than on preserving what he said. And within those scenes, he often uses greater descriptive detail and usually connects the scenes with the adverb immediately, quickly moving from one event to another. 


Why? He tells us in his opening lines exactly what his purpose is. 

He says, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God. 

Everything he records is aimed at revealing that this Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the messiah, who is also the very son of God. 

This is immediately evident from where he begins. He does not begin like Matthew and Luke, with genealogy, birth announcements, and the nativity scene, the flight to Egypt and the return to Nazareth. He gets to this pivotal action in Jesus’ life in less than 9 verses where it takes Luke and Matthew and 152 and 60 respectively. 

He gets to the action of Jesus quickly and he begins with an event in Jesus life that reveals who he is immediately, when Jesus comes to be baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river. This morning we will look at his record of this revealing event in Mark 1, verses 9-11. 


Mark 1:9-11 (ESV) 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”


Short and to the point. Jesus comes to be baptized and is revealed as the Beloved Son. This morning we are going to look at this revelation more closely and ask two follow up questions, why it matters and how we should respond to it. 

The beauty of this action packed scene that takes place in the wilderness of Judea is that each detail reveals to us that this ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ is the Son of God. Let’s look more closely at…


The Revelation of the Son

I see a progression of revelation as we walk through each member of the trinity and their respective actions, culminating in the pronouncement. By the way, some critics of scripture try to argue that Jesus never claimed divinity. It is hard to read this trinitarian passage and get from it anything other than not only the divinity of Jesus, but his awareness of his divinity, but I am getting ahead of myself. 


Let’s look first at the revelation of the Son by the Son- we see this in his submission.

In those days- The days of John the Baptist’s ministry when people from all over were coming to hear John’s preaching, to repent of their sins, and to partake in John’s unique and new baptism. 

Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee- about a 40 miles journey on foot from the comforts of his home to the wilderness of Judea.

While Mark focuses on the action, Jesus was baptized, Matthew records for us the conversation that transpired between John and Jesus. 

Matthew 3:14-15 (ESV) 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.


Why does he resist?

My favorite commentary gives three reasons John ‘strongly protests’ baptizing Jesus. 

First, John is a lesser person. How can he, the lesser, baptize Jesus, the greater? 

Second, he offers a lesser baptism. He offers water, the symbol of purification, but Jesus offers the Holy Spirit and fire. Fire burns away impurities. The Spirit indwells believers and empowers them to break with sin. 

Third, Jesus has no need of water baptism. John preaches a baptism of repentance, but Jesus has not sinned and therefore need not repent. Jesus offers forgiveness (26:28), he does not need it. Why should John give Jesus a baptism he does not need?

Our focus this morning is specifically on the third reason. Jesus did not need to be baptized in the way the people coming to John did. 

Notice Jesus does not argue with John’s reasoning. He doesn’t say, no John, I am a sinner too and I need to repent. He essentially says you are right on all accounts. I am the greater one you have been proclaiming, I will baptize with a greater baptism, and I do not need a baptism of repentance. 

But, let it be so now, for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. 

Let me briefly try and summarize what I think Jesus is saying this means for both of them. 

First, we remember that John was not in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism of repentance and baptizing according to his own will. In the gospel of John we find these words from John the Baptist John 1:33-34 (ESV) 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Who sent him? John also answers that question in his gospel. John 1:6 (ESV) 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

God sent John to fulfill a ministry that was twofold. One to prepare the way for the Lord by calling Jewish men and women to repent of their misplaced trust, their sinful lifestyles, and to turn to what God was calling them to do, receive his messiah, one two in order to reveal the Messiah through water baptism. 

So Jesus says, no John, I do not need your baptism, but this is the way the Father has appointed that I would be revealed. 

Second, we remember that Jesus came of his own volition. He knew that this was the Father’s plan that he come and humble himself and allow himself to be baptized by someone who rightly acknowledges he is not even worthy to untie and carry the sandals of Jesus. 

Essentially Jesus says, this is the culmination of what you came to do and this is what I must do, therefore let us fulfill all righteousness. 

By receiving this baptism, Jesus is identifying with his people in their sin. The nation needs to repent, and Jesus is part of the nation, so Jesus comes to participate in this baptism of repentance that God has called his people to submit to through the ministry of John the Baptist. John is the last prophet of the Old Covenant and Jesus has come to fulfill the Old Covenant and usher in the New. 

In this submission Jesus reveals that he is willing to obey the Father in humility. 

He did not need to be baptized, but willingly submitted to the Father’s design for his Messiahship. 

So, as Mark says, he was baptized by John in the Jordan. 

We do not know how many baptisms that John the Baptist conducted, but we do know whether it was hundreds or thousands, this one was unique, this is the one he had been waiting for. He plunges Jesus under the water and when Jesus comes up out of the water, whether actually the moment he came up or as he left the water, John sees the heavens open, actually Mark uses a much stronger word, he says that John and Jesus saw the heavens being torn open, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. God temporarily ripped the veil between the Spiritual and the Physical and let John glimpse into the heavens to see the descent of the Holy Spirit. How it happened or what exactly it looked like is not the important question, it is acknowledging that God was doing something miraculous and unique in this moment.

Luke mentions that Jesus was praying, perhaps in praise of God, perhaps in dedication to the Father’s will, we are not told, but it just further shows his complete submission to the Father in this moment. 


Let’s look at this second part of the revelation of the Son by the Spirit- we see this in his anointing.

This is the second person of the triune Godhead revealing Jesus’ sonship.

he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

This leads us to two natural questions. 

The first is, why did the Spirit, who we know already dwelt in Christ, descend upon him at that time? The second, why the appearance or form of a dove?

The first question is answered by prophecy, by Jesus, and by his apostle in various places. 

In prophecy- In Isaiah 61, the prophet says, speaking of God’s coming Messiah  (ESV) 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me. He goes on to talk about the ministry of the one who would come to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor or his redemptive work for his people. 

By Jesus- One of Jesus’ first public declarations concerning himself was in his hometown of Nazareth, shortly after his baptism. Luke 4:16-21 (ESV) 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

By his apostles- Peter in preaching to Cornelius and his household says, Acts 10:36-38 (ESV) 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

God empowered Jesus in his humanity to carry out his mission as Messiah. Could Jesus, in his divinity do the works he did while on Earth? Absolutely, we maintain that Jesus was fully divine. However, it is my understanding that in his humility he did not exercise his divinity apart from the will of the Father, so to be fully submitted to the Father and His will, he was anointed by the Spirit to carry out his mission with the power of God empowering his humanity. 

Second, why a dove? Why not fire like at Pentecost? 

At this point, all we have is speculation, but let me briefly offer you some reasons, at least historically this has been understood. 

John Calvin in his commentaries on this passage says, We know what the prophet Isaiah ascribes to Christ in Isaiah 42:2 and 3 “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench,”

On account of this mildness of Christ, by which he kindly and gently called, and every day invites, sinners to the hope of salvation, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the appearance of a dove And in this symbol has been held out to us an eminent token of the sweetest consolation, that we may not fear to approach to Christ, who meets us, not in the formidable power of the Spirit, but clothed with gentle and lovely grace.

This is in line with other commentaries that remind us that scripture often uses the imagery of a dove to communicate purity, gentleness, beauty, and peace in various places. All of which seem appropriate when we think of the Holy Spirit of God resting perfectly on the Son of God. 

Fire burns away impurities, Christ had none. 

The Holy Spirit must invade and change man, Jesus needed no changing. 

The Spirit must make himself a holy place in man if he is to dwell in them, Jesus needed no such purification, and so the Holy Spirit descends like a dove and remains on him. 

The perfect dwelling place and in doing so declares that Jesus is the very son of God, the only one worthy of such anointing by the Holy Spirit. 


Finally, concerning this Triune revelation of Jesus by the Godhead, we see the revelation of the Son by the Father- we see this in his pronouncement.

This is the third person of the triune Godhead in our scene revealing Jesus’ sonship.

11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Father says ‘This is my son, the beloved’, or ‘this is my beloved Son’ depending on the way we translate the Greek, but either way the emphasis is on the fact that God is saying that this Jesus is his son, whom he loves.  

Jesus is not just unique in that he doesn’t need to repent, he is not just unique in his perfect anointing by the Spirit, he is the one and only son of God and he is pleasing to the Father. 

I was talking to Will about the sermon text and he challenged me to dig around scripture to see where else God is said to be pleased, and I am glad that I did. 


In Leviticus God details what will and will not be pleasing or acceptable to him

God is said to have been pleased with the unblemished male burnt offering  from one’s herd

In Isaiah God prophecies through the prophet that he will pardon her iniquity (same word) 

In the immediate context this is a messianic prophecy concerning the coming Lord and where the forerunner is first mentioned.


If we follow the usage from the Old Testament, God is saying two very important things here, one he is pleased with Jesus offering of himself by identifying with sinful Israel, by submitting himself to the baptism of repentance for Israel as the unblemished lamb, and two that he is pleased to accept this offering on behalf of mankind so that he may pardon his people’s iniquity. 

This is exactly what Isaiah is prophesying about in Isaiah 53:4-5 (ESV) 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed… He goes on to say in (ESV) 10 Yet it was the will (good pleasure) of the LORD to crush him;

He will audibly say it again on the mountain of transfiguration, This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased,  and he will say it again in the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death and burial. In him, I am well pleased. 

Jesus is revealed to be the very Son of God. 

Revealed through his obedience and humility, revealed by the perfect anointing of the Holy Spirit, and revealed by the pronouncement of the Father. 


This is what we learn from Jesus’ actions in his baptism as well as the surrounding details of the event. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, revealed to mankind through this event. But why does it matter?


Why this revelation matters

If I can, I want to show you why this matters by looking at three areas that are essential to our understanding. 

Why does this revelation matter in redemptive history? That is to say, what is significant about it in God’s redemptive plan?

In this revelation, we see two covenants represented. This event shows us the continuity between them. John the Baptist is the last old testament prophet, calling God’s people to repentance. Jesus stands as representative of the new covenant. It is at this moment that we begin to see how they work together. 

Jesus was born under the law, we saw that last week. Here he shows us in his perfect submission that he has come to fulfill the law as the true Israel, the true Son of God.

It is in the waters of the Jordan that Christ declares that he will fulfill the covenant of the law so that he may usher in the covenant of grace. This is no minor detail, this is fulfillment of prophecy, this is fulfillment of God’s promises to send a messiah, and this is Jesus beginning  the fulfillment of his role in redemptive history. 

This, the beloved son, pleasing to the Father, begins his public ministry of calling people to repentance and faith in God’s plan of redemptive mercy and grace, culminating in the cross on Calvary. But make no mistake, this is the event that begins his journey to it. 


Why does this revelation matter in the life and ministry of Jesus? That is to say, why is this revelation important for our understanding of what Christ came to do. 

Obviously, this marks the beginning of his public ministry. The disciples understood its importance. After Jesus had ascended into heaven and they had come back to Jerusalem to wait for the promised Holy Spirit, Peter stands up and addresses the disciples. He says that Judas’ office of Apostle must be filled. What are the qualifications?

Acts 1:21-22 (ESV) 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

Did you get that? His followers marked his earthly ministry as beginning at his baptism and ending at his ascension.

It was also the moment, as we have noted, that he identified with sinful humanity and their need for repentance and forgiveness of sins. 

It was also the moment, as we have noted, that he was anointed with power to carry out his mission.

It was also the moment that he saw heaven opened, the Spirit descended on him, and heard the voice of his Father pronouncing his good pleasure on his humanity. He did not in this moment, become the son, or become the Messiah, but rather God pronounces that he did not lose any of his sonship by taking on humanity, by robing himself in flesh, he is still and forever, the only begotten Son of God. 

This moment is hard to over emphasize in the life and ministry of our Lord. 


So it matters in redemptive history, it mattered in the life and ministry of Jesus and it matters in your life today. 

Why does this revelation matter in your life today?Because this is God’s plan to redeem mankind. 

He sent his only son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus is that Son. 

Because this is Jesus standing in your spot as a sinner in need of repentance, identifying with you, but he didn’t stop there. He went on to live a life of perfect obedience to the will of the Father and in accordance with the law, doing what you could not do. Then, when what he deserved was an open armed welcome home to the Father at the end of his earthly life, he willingly went to a Roman cross to suffer the death and wrath of God that you deserved. The infinite dying a finite death, so that you who are finite can have eternal life. 

A man dying for you would not have been sufficient for your sins. 

100 men, even good men, dying for you would not have put a dent in your sin debt.

But the perfect, eternal son of God dying a sinner’s death, in your spot, means that God has put the full weight and wrath of the sins of his elect onto Jesus Christ, so that through him he might grant them eternal life. 


You see, the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God is central, to God’s redemptive plan, to his own ministry, and to your life today. That’s why it matters, but how do we respond to this revelation?


How we respond to this revelation

First, we believe it. We believe that when the Bible calls Jesus the son of God, True Israel, rightful heir of all things, king of kings and lord of lords over all, with his reign culminating in the new heavens and the new earth, it’s true. 

To reject any of the claims scripture makes about Jesus is to reject Jesus. We know that faith is more than belief, but it is not less than. This is why we proclaim the word of God week in and week out, so that in hearing it, people may believe it. 


But we know that belief is not enough, right? James tells us that. 

James 2:19-20 (ESV) 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 

Believing things about God and Jesus is not enough, assenting mentally to intellectual facts does not save you. 

We also have to trust it. 

We have to trust that God’s plan to redeem mankind is through his son Jesus. 

Acts 4:12 (ESV) 2 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

In another place Jesus says, (ESV) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Listen, Jesus is not one way, Jesus is not one option that works among many, he is the only way to God. 

I am entrusting everything I have in that truth. My future, my eternity, all that I am is dependent on Jesus Christ being the only way to salvation as the only Son of God. 

Listen, believing that Jesus is a way is not the same thing as believing he is the way. 

If Jesus is the beloved son in whom God is well pleased, then he is the only way to His Father, and we put all of our hope and trust in that truth. We are persuaded that he is it.

And finally, the Bible says we must act on it. 

Having believed, having trusted, we cry out to him.

Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 10:8-13 (ESV) “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”


In the New Testament the action that accompanied repenting of our trust in ourselves and placing our faith in Jesus Christ as the way to be saved was water baptism. 

The same picture that we have before of us of our Lord this morning. 

Going down into the water in repentance, knowing that in doing so we identify with Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection in the same way he identified with our sinful humanity. 

I don’t care what other action we come up with, raising your hand, walking an aisle, saying a prayer, signing a card, the Bible declares that those who believe and trust in Jesus will be baptized as his disciples. That is the way we respond to the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God given for the sins of mankind, whose sacrifice was accepted by the Father, who raised him from the dead and he is reigning forever and ever more as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 


Amen and amen. 

As we come to the close of our time together. 

I can only hope that everyone of you has seen and heard clearly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And that having seen and heard that, you either rejoice that your life is hidden in him, that you are saved and secure in the Son, or you have been moved to place all of your hope and trust in him as your Lord and Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of His word. 

If you are in the first group, then in a moment, I pray as we stand and sing, it is a special moment of corporate worship for you as you thank God for saving you through HIs son. 


If you are in the second group, then in a moment, I pray as we stand and sing, you would come and share with us your desire to put all of your faith and trust in Jesus and go public in believer’s baptism. 

And finally, there may be someone here today who has put their faith and trust in Jesus, this week in your car, last month, or years ago, but you have never gone public and been baptized. I pray that you realize that although baptism doesn’t save you, being baptized is what saved people do and you would come and schedule a time to do that before our church. 


Let us pray. 






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