THE BAPTISM IN THE JORDAN
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Mt 3: 13-17)
Was this our Lord’s only “baptism” or “immersion,” – the one in the Jordan? No. He was yet to “immerse” Himself into the very depths of our death and even our hell, and to emerge from there victorious, in newness of life. He speaks of that baptism, of His death, when He says to James and John: “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” (Mk 10: 39). And indeed it is that baptism with which we are all baptized, as St. Paul reminds us: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Rom 6: 3)
So the great feast of Theophany, celebrated today on the Older Calendar, focuses primarily on the mystery of the Triune God’s “appearance” (“theo-phania”) at the Jordan, and not so much on the mystery of Holy Baptism, – the new, “one baptism for the remission of sins,” – which was yet to be revealed. Today we are shown the Three Who are acting in harmony, in order to pave the way for our rebirth in “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt 3: 11). “Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord, and the light of Your countenance has been marked on us.” Let me remember that I am thus “marked” today, as I go about my schedule in His light.