The Most Important Question: A Holy Moment

BIG IDEA: What’s interesting about Mark is that he answers the question his gospel asks in the very first scene. Why is that?

SERIES: The Most Important Question Ever Asked – A Study in the Gospel According to Mark: John Mark, a traveling companion of the Apostle Peter, wrote this first gospel to be penned. We trust his writing because of that tie to Peter, an Apostle of Christ. These are essentially the memoirs of Peter and his account of Christ, written to a group of Christians in Rome. Throughout the entirety of the gospel, Mark asks the most important question ever asked: Who do you say Jesus is? 

SCRIPTURE: Mark 1:1-11
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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.


  • Mark uses a variation on a classic trope to open his gospel
    • “Trope”: a recurring theme or motif, a way of telling a story that occurs frequently.
      • “Up to speed”: this trope shows the audience the ending right at the beginning. John Mark uses a variation on this trope to start out his gospel by answering his big question right at the beginning despite the fact that he will spend the rest of the gospel working to answer this question: who is Jesus?
      • Why use this trope? This form mimics the structure of faith itself and how faith works. God speaks, and his word is final.
        • God spoke at the beginning of creation and said it was good, and despite the work of the redemption process after the fall, it was and is and always will be good. God’s covenants are true, and we live in faith, working out his will on earth.
        • The beginning of the Good News started back in the Old Testament. Mark quotes Old Testament prophets.
          • Malachi 3:1, etc.
        • At the very beginning of the book, God declares that Jesus is his son, and then he patiently waits for the rest of the book for others to realize it.
    • Why is this the most important question? Because every time someone asks if Jesus is God’s son, it brings God himself glory and joy.
    • A Holy Moment: Jesus’ baptism was a holy moment, and by recognizing who Jesus is, we also experience a holy moment.
    • Things that help us experience a holy moment, that help us make way the path for the Lord:
      • Go to the wilderness: John was baptizing in the wilderness outside of Jerusalem, so it was some distance for Jesus to come and find John, which is important. John’s work was a fulfillment of prophecy, but he was also actually preparing the way for Jesus.
        • The geography matters: Jesus begins his ministry in the wilderness because it’s simple and uncluttered. It is free of distraction. You need to leave a lot of things behind, decluttering your life to create the room to ask the big questions and find out the answer.
        • Emptying without refilling is pointless because if you cleanse your life and fail to fill it with God, then you may fill yourself up with the wrong things.
      • Cleanse: Cleanse your life, your mind, and your heart by confessing your sins, creating spiritual room. But this doesn’t mean that you shape up your life before becoming a Christian. You come as you are and then Jesus cleanses you of your sins.
        • Did Jesus need cleansing? He got baptized? The answer is no, because he was free from sin, but he did so to both inaugurate this new baptism in the Holy Spirit and to declare his own personal participation in what he asks of his followers.
      • Intentionality: These things all take intentionality. You have to act and change something, becoming honest about how your life before wasn’t working. These things will not just happen to you. YOU have to do something about it.
      • See yourself properly: John the Baptist was happy to live into his calling to be on the sidelines, to remain out of the spotlight. He was content to simply stand next to Jesus at his baptism, his holy moment. John saw himself properly.
        • Until we learn to become nothing, we will never become something. We can’t add Jesus into our story, but rather we get invited into God’s story, and it’s up to us to accept.
        • Are you willing to let the greatest moment in your life be the moment in which you made the most of Jesus? Are you excited to stand next to the star of the show? It won’t be about you, but about him. Are you willing to experience that holy moment?
      • Holy Moments: You can experience holy moments throughout your life by continually giving over to God, by continually saying, “it’s not about me; it’s about Jesus.”
        • We don’t know who heard God declare Jesus as his son. We don’t know if John even heard it, but John came to know that he was there for a holy moment. We have nothing to do with holy moments, but God lets us into them. He gives us the privilege to be in the presence of holy moments. Thank and praise God for it because he has invited us in, he wants us to experience the joy he experiences.

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