Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
We have now entered the season of Epiphany.Epiphany means “to show forth or manifest.” It is a time in the church year when we see our Savior as the One in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
We want to see Jesus as the almighty Savior-God who came with all power to save our lost and fallen world. During the Advent and Christmas seasons we witnessed our Savior through the eyes of faith as the lowly Christ-Child born in a stable and laid in a manger—seemingly helpless. But now it is time to see our Savior as the eternally blessed God who came with all power to save sinful mankind through His holy life and innocent death in our place.
We want to dwell on our Savior’s glory now, before we enter the season of Lent, in which we see our Savior-God blasphemed, spit upon, scourged, and ultimately nailed to a cross for the sins of the world.
Epiphany gives us time to contemplate the glory of our Lord before we witness His death as our Substitute!
Our Lord’s baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) effectively marked the end of John the Baptizer’s ministry and the beginning of our Savior’s public ministry. At His baptism Jesus was inaugurated into His three-fold office of Prophet, Priest, and King. He began His ministry to serve and save all mankind by fulfilling all things written of Him in Holy Scripture.
The Father and the Spirit were present with Jesus; what a fitting beginning as we remember what our Lord’s ministry would be like and how the world would receive Him! Isaiah announced His hardship. Jesus would be “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). It was to be a hard, bitter, rough road to travel, but Jesus knew His Father would be with Him—and strengthened by the Spirit, He went forth with confidence that His mission would be a success. Our Savior began His journey to Jerusalem where the final battle would be fought.
Jesus’ baptism was a miraculous event that gives us a brief glimpse of our Lord’s true glory, for the Holy Spirit descended upon Him when His heavenly Father declared His delight in His Son. Most of the time Jesus kept His glory hidden underneath His humility—and humility remains a distinguishing characteristic of Jesus’ followers.
During His earthly ministry Jesus—“who is over all, the eternally blessed God” (Romans 9:5)—did not consider being equal to God something to be paraded about. Contrary to what the world teaches, meekness is a most desirable quality. We strive to have the humility of our Lord.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
Think of how the Baptizer must have felt. He was a humble man who knew he was a sinner. We see a humble Christian man being asked to baptize His God! John vigorously protested this as he said, “I need to be baptized by You…” John knew himself to be in need of the forgiveness and salvation that only Jesus could give; certainly we can understand how John felt. We stand humbly beside John as the Father proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
During the season of Epiphany, we see through the eyes of faith, at least in part, the true glory of our Savior-God! “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Not everyone can see this glory, but those who through the Spirit’s working are true Christ-believers can.
Rejoice, dear Christians, for you can see this glory through the eyes of faith!