The Baptism of the Lord
The Baptism of the Lord has historically been associated with the celebration of Epiphany. Even today, the Eastern Christian feast of Theophany, celebrated on January 6 as a counterpart to the Western feast of Epiphany, focuses primarily on the Baptism of the Lord as the revelation of God to man.
Originally the Epiphany celebrated the Nativity of Christ the coming of the Magi, the Baptism of our lord and the Wedding at Canaan. When the Nativity of Christ was separated from Epiphany the church in the West began to dedicate separate celebrations for the others as they were separated from Epiphany. Now each of the four epiphanies (revelations) or theophanies (the revelation of God to man) has a separate commemoration:
- The Birth of Christ at Christmas, which revealed Christ to Israel;
- The revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, in the visit of the Wise Men at Epiphany;
- The Baptism of the Lord, which revealed the Trinity;
- The miracle at the wedding at Cana, which revealed Christ’s transformation of the world.
Standing alone the Baptism of the Lord, is the first revelation of the Trinity
The first mention we have of his Baptism, is in Mark’s Gospel Mark chapter 1, I say first because under certain Chronologies of the gospel, Mark’s is considered to be the first. He has no Infancy Narrative; the first Theophany is absent as are the 2nd and 4th. His beginning is the fulfilment of the prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi, John is the Messenger who comes before – the Forerunner
‘This is the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,:
…… And so, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
……. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
We have our second record in Luke chapter 3.
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Our Third in Matthew chapter 3
11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
And our final account in John 1
The concept of Lamb of God is introduced and after Jesus’ Baptism certain of John the Baptist’s disciples leave to follow Jesus.
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”[f]
Each narrative is different because each Evangelist has a different agenda, but the text around the Baptism of Jesus is very much the same; bar John who does not say “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” The manifestation of Trinity is not so clearly stated here, why is another story.
Matthew writes that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with Fire – Pentecost? Or Judgement because “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
In our Celebration of the revelation of the three in one we celebrate the one who is, anointed by the Holy Spirit, is the beloved son of God. Baptized as one with us, will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire and who has come to judge the living and the dead.