The Baptism of the Lord

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by GMC

“The Baptism of the Lord”
A reflection on Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. 

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Plunged Into God

In Greek, baptizó (baptize) means to plunge or submerge. The God who created the heavens and the earth “in the beginning” baptized all creation into himself through Jesus Christ. Thus Jesus plunged into the river Jordan as man, but the waters of the earth and all creation plunged into him as God.

Born Into the Blessed Trinity

“In the beginning,” the Spirit of God or Wind (ruach) hovered over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2). In the new “beginning” over the waters, the Spirit of God descended on the Son like a dove, accompanied by the Father’s voice, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Enfolding the heavens and the earth in glorious light, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit gave sacramental birth to the new creation.

From a Sermon by St. Gregory of Nazianzus:

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.

Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received—though not in its fullness—a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

When Jesus rose from the watery womb of the earth,
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit gave it new birth.

2 Replies to “The Baptism of the Lord”

  1. “The Baptist protests; Jesus insists.
    John says: I ought to be baptized by you.
    He is the lamp in the presence of the sun.”
    Lord of light, in every thing I do,
    Guide me, hold me, shower me,
    When I protest your grace infusion.
    Please strongly insist until I see.
    With you, I know who I am
    Only peace, no confusion.

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