The Epiphany - Θεοφάνεια - The Baptism of Jesus



The Baptism of Jesus 

(Matthew 3)

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 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. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[c] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[d] with whom I am well pleased.”

The baptism of Jesus holds significant importance for Orthodox Christians for several reasons:

  1. Theophany (Epiphany): The baptism of Jesus is celebrated as Theophany or Epiphany in the Orthodox Church. This feast commemorates the revelation of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—during Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. This event symbolizes the manifestation of God to humanity.

  2. Baptismal Theology: Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus' baptism serves as a model and sanctifies the act of baptism itself. It marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry and symbolizes repentance, purification, and the initiation into a new life in God. Orthodox Christians view baptism as an essential sacrament for spiritual rebirth and entry into the Church.

  3. The Trinity Revelation: The moment of Jesus' baptism is a pivotal event where the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father is heard declaring, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This occurrence emphasizes the unity of the Holy Trinity and reveals Jesus' divine nature.

  4. Example of Humility: Jesus, who is sinless, chooses to be baptized by John the Baptist. This act illustrates Jesus' humility, solidarity with humanity, and his willingness to identify with sinners, even though he himself was without sin. It sets an example for believers to follow in his footsteps.

  5. The Fulfillment of Prophecy: Jesus' baptism is seen as the fulfillment of prophecy, particularly Isaiah 42:1, where it was foretold that God's servant would be anointed with His Spirit.

  6. Opening of Heaven: The heavens opening and the Spirit descending on Jesus symbolize the restoration of the relationship between God and humanity, which was broken by sin. It signifies the inauguration of the Kingdom of God and the reconciliation between God and mankind.

Overall, the Orthodox Church holds the baptism of Jesus in high regard due to its theological significance, emphasizing the revelation of the Trinity, the sanctification of baptism, Jesus' humility, and the beginning of his public ministry. It serves as a cornerstone event in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.


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