The Divine Theophany

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

THE DIVINE THEOPHANY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

"About the beginning of our Lord's thirtieth year, John the Forerunner, who was some six months older than Our Savior according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a command from God and came into the parts of the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins. Then our Savior also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism though He was the Master and John was a servant. Whereupon, there came to pass those marvelous deeds, great and beyond nature: the Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized and the voice was heard from the Heavens hearing witness that this was the beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man." (St. Matthew 3:13-17; St. Mark 1:9-11; St. Luke 3:1-22)

From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the Holy Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from this that the present feast is called "Theophany," that is, the Divine Manifestation, God's appearance among men. On this venerable day the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated; henceforth also began the saving preaching of the Kingdom of the Heavens.

Apolytikion in First Mode

Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, Who appeared and enlightened the world.

Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Mode

You appeared to the world today, and Your Light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding we sing to You: "You came, Your were made manifest, the unapproachable Light."

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Not many events are mentioned in Holy Scripture in the interval between the Meeting of Christ and Baptism of Christ. What we know about are the flight into Egypt and the return from there, as well as the presence of Christ in the Temple when He was twelve years old.

This is not without reason and purpose. The Gospels were not written to describe the whole history of Christ, but to present the Incarnation of the Son and Logos/Word of God, and what Christ taught, what He did and what He suffered for the human race. In essence the Gospels were catechetical aids. So the historical events of Christ's life and the reference to His childhood years were not needed. His appearance in the Temple was included in the Gospel because it was the early evidence that He was the Son of God.

The person who played a major role in Christ's Baptism is the Worthy Forerunner, John the Baptist. He is a great Prophet, a great character placed between the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Prophets of the Old and the first of the Prophets of the New Testaments.

The way in which he was conceived was miraculous through God's intervention, through the sperm of his father Zacharias and not from the Holy Spirit. His birth is connected with miraculous events. His from the age of three years sojourn in the desert indicates his angelic way of life. His preaching of repentance was to prepare the people for receiving the Messiah. His humility was awe-inspiring. But also his approach to perfection shows that he attained a great height of grace.

The Worthy Forerunner was related to Christ, as His Mother, the Panagia, was related to Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner. At the time when the Worthy Forerunner was an embryo of six months in his mother's womb, the Annunciation came to the Theotokos, so we understand that St. John the Baptist was six months older than Christ.

John the Forerunner received the Holy Spirit, Which showed him to be a Prophet, while he was a six months' embryo in his mother's womb. For when the Panagia (All-Holy) Mother of God, who has just conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, greeted his mother Elizabeth, then "the babe leapt in her womb" (St. Luke 1:41). Thus he became a Prophet and passed the prophetic gift on to his mother, for in this way she too recognized the mother of the Lord (St. Gregory Palamas).

The word Baptism, as Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite interprets it, which means plunging, is a verbal noun that comes from the verb 'bapto', meaning to plunge, immerse. Thus baptism is connected with water.

Since John's baptism led men to the sense of their sins and prepared the people to receive the most perfect man and had not committed any sin, then why was He baptized? The answer to this question manifests great truths to us.

Saint John of Damaskos says that Christ was not baptized because He had need of purification, "but to identify Himself with our purification." Just as Christ suffered and was crucified for mankind and felt all the grief and pain, so He identified Himself with our own purification. Many things happened in this way.

So according to Saint John of Damaskos, Christ was baptized in order to crush the heads of the dragons in the water, for there was a conception that the demons swell in the water; in order to wash the sin and bury the oldAdam in the water; in order to bless the Baptist, for the Forerunner did not bless Christ, but Christ blessed the Forerunner when the latter put his hand on Christ's head; in order to keep the law, since He Himself gave it and should not appear to transgress it; in order to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, because at that moment we have the manifestation of the Holy Trinity; in order to become a model for our own baptism, which is perfect baptism and is done by water and the Holy Spirit.

Beyond these things, by His baptism in the River Jordan Christ blessed the water as well. That is why even today we perform the service of the blessing of the water and during the celebration we call upon the Holy Spirit (invocation or epiclesis), to bless the waters. Thus after the blessing it ceases to be water of the fall and became water of renewal, since it is united with the uncreated grace of God.

The River Jordan has remained famous for various events in history, but chiefly for the preaching and Baptism of John the Forerunner, but also for Christ's Baptism in it.

According to Saint John Chrysostom, the Jordan river is a symbol of the human race. In the first place it is called Jordan because it comes from two sources the Jor and the Dan. These two sources form the River Jordan, which flows into the Dead Sea. According to one reductive interpretation, the whole human race comes from two sources, Adam and Eve, and through sin it was brought to deadening, the Dead Sea of the present life, where there is death. By His Incarnation Christ entered into the Jordan, this human race, and in this way He conquered death and restored mankind to its former life.

(To be continued: On Theophany)

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MY BLESSSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George