On January 6, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, known as Epiphany. The Baptism of the Saviour in the Jordan is also called “Epiphany” or “Theophany,” terms which come from the Greek language and mean “revelation” or ” discovery.”
The Baptism of Jesus Christ happened on the 6th of January, the Epiphany, and is remembered from the 2nd century by St. Clement the Alexandrian. We mention that in the early centuries, Epiphany was celebrated together with the Nativity on January 6. So from the 4th century onwards, the two feasts were separated: Indeed, 25 December was the date set for the celebration of the Nativity and 6 January for the Baptism.
At the age of 30, at the fullness of the age of the perfect man, Christ came to Jordan, where St. John the Baptist taught and baptized with the baptism of repentance. About Jesus, he said: “He is in the midst of you whom you do not know” (John 1:26). “I did not know Him either, but He who sent me to baptize with water, He said to me: on whom you will see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, He it is who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
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Who instituted the Sacrament of Baptism?
Christ is immersed in the Jordan, and the Spirit descends upon the waters. The Son had to immerse Himself in human flesh and through it in water so that we, immersing ourselves in water, might rise to His divine life in His Holy Spirit. Indeed in the incarnate Word, water and Spirit have united again.
The sacrament of baptism was instituted by Christ Himself immediately after His resurrection from the dead, with the sending of the apostles to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles: “So go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Also teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Epiphany (Jordan) – 6 January: so on Epiphany, no washing of clothes, holy water is taken now has miraculous powers, it never spoils. Also, in Epiphany, all the waters are consecrated, and the priest goes to the water where he will throw the cross. Therefore several men throw themselves into the water to bring it back, and the one who takes the cross out of the water will have good luck all year.
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Why did Jesus wait until he was 30 to get baptized?
While Western Christians primarily commemorate the coming of the Magi at the birth of the Christ Child and thus the physical appearance of the Saviour to the Gentiles, Orthodox Christians honor the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as a manifestation to the world of the Son of God (the Presentation of the Lord).
The reason why Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan at the age of 30 is that God the Son could not begin his messianic activity before that age because, at that time, it was considered improper among the Jews for anyone to be made a teacher or priest before the age of 30. To do the baptism, Christ the Lord waited 30 years for baptism until this age, that He might fulfill the law with all ages, sanctify our flesh and give us power, that we might overcome the passions and keep us from deadly sins.
So the Bible mentions John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, who preached His coming, encouraging the Jews to repentance. Believing him to be a prophet, the people of Jerusalem and Judea gathered around him to listen to his words and, above all, to be baptized in the Jordan River.
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What happened when Jesus appeared at the Jordan?
The Orthodox celebrate the baptism of the Saviour in the waters of the Jordan by St John the Baptist. According to the writings, John the Baptist began his prophetic activity in the wilderness of Jordan at this time. Through his teaching, he came to amaze and attract many people.
When the Saviour appeared on the banks of the Jordan, St John the Baptist, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, recognized and showed him to the crowds. All four evangelists record the moment when the Saviour Jesus Christ received baptism.
The Evangelist Matthew says that Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River, where John the Baptist was baptized, asking to be baptized as well. John said to him, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me,” and when Jesus replied that it was appropriate, he was eventually baptized by John.
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What happened when Jesus came out of the baptismal water?
Epiphany is also a feast dedicated to the purification of nature, especially the waters, from the forces of evil. So in villages on the banks of a river or the seashore, it was customary for the priest to throw a wooden cross into the very cold. So sometimes, even freezing water, after which brave lads would jump in to bring it back.
Tradition says that when the Saviour came out of the water of the Jordan, “the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God poured out, descending like a dove and coming upon him” and that a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The great Christian feast is preceded by a fasting day, representing man’s sacrifice before receiving holy water.
On Epiphany Eve, the priest goes from house to house with the cross, sprinkling a bunch of basil over all the household’s household goods. In the old days, the priest’s arrival was loudly announced by a group of children shouting “Chiralesaaa!”, an expression from Kirie Eleison, meaning “Lord have mercy!”
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Key Verse related to Jesus’ Baptism
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
3 Main Traditions of the day of the Baptism of the Lord
- So it was said that he who keeps vigil on Christmas Eve and is lucky enough to see the heavens open would receive whatever he asks for from God. Also, on Epiphany, stables, and animals were smoked to ward off evil spirits, fires were lit in the fields, and noisy carol singing was performed. All this was done to cleanse and ward off evil.
- Tradition now required eating pork meat, boiled wheat, and drinking red wine. So it was also believed that the rain at Epiphany heralded a long winter, and the excellent weather heralded a summer to match. If there is a thunderstorm, it is a sign that there will be fruit in the dishes, and if water flows from the eaves, good wine will be made.
- The Great Holy Water distributed after the Epiphany service in churches was and still is kept with sanctity, being a cure for illnesses, but also for times when housewives believe that the family or the household has received unclean ‘works.’ Strange as it may seem, the holy water queue has roots in folk beliefs.
Read also: Questions about Jesus’ baptism.
What to do on Epiphany?
Epiphany, or the Baptism of the Lord, one of the 12 major Christian holidays, is celebrated on 6 January. As well as the tradition of the consecration of the waters. It includes several folk customs, such as men taking the cross out of the water. And superstitions, such as finding the bear.
According to church traditions, on Epiphany and St John’s Day, depending on the area of the country, carols are made, spells are cast, and the future of the new year is predicted. Girls put basil under their pillows to dream of their sweethearts, and men swim to remove the cross thrown into the water by the priest.
That’s why the Church also calls Epiphany the “Annunciation, the “Divine Revelation,” and the “Epiphany,” the latter coming from Greek and meaning “revelation,” “unveiling,” and “revelation.” Epiphany means the renewal of the Christian man.
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Why Did Jesus Need to Be Baptized?
It is not necessary for Jesus Christ to be baptized because He is sinless, but since He freely takes upon Himself the sin of the world, He fulfills righteousness, that is, the will of God the Father that His Son should be the Savior of the world. He made Himself the bearer of the human condition, of life mingled with death, to give His life without eternal death to mortal men.
Jesus had to be baptized to fulfill the prophecies. When the time came for Jesus to show Himself to Israel, “the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness,” sending him to begin water baptism. And he also gave John a sign by which he could recognize the Messiah: “He who sent me to baptize with water said to me. ‘Indeed on whom you will see the Spirit descending and remaining. He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33).
In the light of Christ’s Baptism, we understand why Christian Baptism is performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, that is, in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit…Just as the Holy Trinity was present at the Baptism of the Saviour Christo, the Holy Trinity is also present when each person is baptized to become a Christian. So, through His Baptism, the Savior Jesus Christ prepared Christian baptism.
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- So the Baptism of the Lord or Epiphany is when people witness the revelation of the Holy Trinity (epiphany). Indeed God – the Father in heaven, says, “So this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove. And it is also the Son who is baptized in the waters of the Jordan.
- So Baptism is the Mystery in water immersion in the Holy Trinity’s name. The one who is baptized is cleansed from ancestral sin and all sins committed before baptism. He is born to a new spiritual life and becomes a member of the Mystical Body of the Lord, the Church of Christ.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ, after his return from Egypt. He lived in Galilee, in his city Nazareth, where he had grown up, concealing the power and wisdom of his divinity from men. Until he was thirty years old, it was not lawful for any Jews to have the office of a teacher or priest before he was thirty years old. For this reason, Lord Christ did not begin preaching until these years. Nor did he show himself as the Son of God and the great High Priest. Who passed through the heavens until the number of his years was fulfilled.
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In Holy Scripture, only two Mysteries are mentioned: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The others you have listed so far are human inventions. And therefore, we cannot admit them. As for baptism, it is not a mystery but a symbol. A symbolic work in which one imagines cleansing from sins.
So the cleansing of sins, which only strengthens the faith, is only proof that someone gives outside, that he has repented, or it is an inheritance, a seal of repentance. But the cleansing of sins is not done by baptism, but by faith, which by baptism is sealed and confirmed.
Since you have read this great article about the baptism of Jesus, you can test your knowledge with a Quizlet. Have a wonderful day!
Bible Trivia about the Baptism of Jesus Christ
- Gero, S. (1976). The Spirit as a Dove at the Baptism of Jesus. Novum Testamentum, 18(Fasc. 1), 17-35.
- Van Eck, E. (1996). The baptism of Jesus in Mark: A status transformation ritual. Neotestamentica, 30(1), 187-215.
- Garnet, P. (1980). The Baptism of Jesus and the Son of Man Idea. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 3(9), 49-65.
- Webb, R. L. (2000). Jesus’ baptism: Its historicity and implications. Bulletin for Biblical Research, 10(2), 261-309.
- DeMaris, R. E. (2002). The baptism of Jesus: a ritual-critical approach. The social setting of Jesus and the gospels, 137-57.