January 19, 2010

This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Holy Theophany - The Baptism of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Luke

by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

13-14. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him. Jesus is pure, yet He is baptized in order to wash us, and to show us that if we intend to be baptized we must first be cleansed. Otherwise we might stain our baptism, being easily sullied afterwards because of our evil habits. John forbade Him so that those who saw the baptism would not think that Christ was being baptized unto repentance like one of the multitude. Saying, It is I that needeth to be baptized of Thee. The Forerunner was in need of cleansing by the Lord; for as he was descended from Adam, he too carried with him the stain of disobedience. But when Christ took flesh, He cleansed all mankind. And comest Thou to me? John did not dare to say, "Art Thou baptized by me?" but "Comest Thou to me?" such reverence did he have for the Lord.

15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Let it be so now. Permit it now, He says. For there will be a time for us to have the glory that is befitting, even if we do not appear in such glory now. For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. "Righteousness" means the law. Human nature was accursed, Jesus says, because it was not able to fulfill the law. Therefore I have fulfilled all the other requirements of the law. One thing remains for Me to do, that I be baptized. When I have fulfilled this, I shall have delivered human nature from the curse. And this is befitting for Me to do.

15-16. Then he permitted Him; and Jesus, when He was baptized. He was baptized at the age of thirty; for by this age one has experienced all the sins. In the first ten years, there is great foolishness; in the second, during adolescence, the great flame of desire and anger; and in the years of adulthood, great avarice. Jesus waited for this age, therefore, so that He could fulfill the law in all the ages of a man, and sanctify us. Went up straightway out of the water. The Manichean heretics say that He left His body in the Jordan and thereafter displayed another, illusory, body. But their mouths are shut by this, for it says, "Jesus went up"; it was not another who went up, but He Who went down into the water. And lo, the heavens were opened unto Him. Adam had closed the heavens, but through Christ they are opened, so that you may learn, O reader, that when you are baptized, you, too, open the heavens.

16-17. And he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him; and, lo, a voice from heaven, saying. The Spirit came down to bear witness that He Who is baptized is greater than he who baptizes. For the Jews held John in high regard, but they did not esteem Christ so highly. They all saw the Spirit descending upon Jesus so that they would not think that the voice which said, "This is My beloved Son," was referring to John; but by seeing the Spirit they might believe that this voice spoke concerning Jesus. It was like a dove because of the dove’s innocence and meekness, and because the dove is very clean, not remaining in any place where there is foul odor. So it is with the Holy Spirit. But also, as in the time of Noah a dove announced the deliverance from the flood by bearing an olive twig, so too, here, the Holy Spirit reveals the deliverance from sins. There, the twig of olive; here, the mercy of God. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. That is, in Whom I am content, and He is pleasing to Me.

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