Christ is baptized!  In the Jordan!

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

“For though I am free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.”

These are the words of the Apostle who, for the sake of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, and for the salvation of souls, he has sought to make himself like others.  To the Jew he became as a Jew, he says, and to those outside the Law he became like them.  To the weak he became as one weak.  All of this he gladly does for the salvation of all souls, if at all possible.

On this evening, as we commemorate here the Baptism of our Lord, that is, His Theophany – which is to say, God’s revelation of Himself in the waters of the Jordan – it seems to me that the principle St. Paul speaks of here is deeply embedded in and arises from the Incarnation of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ according to the Flesh.  “I am made all things for all men, that I might by all means save some.”  Jesus, the Son of God, in Whom the fullness of deity dwells bodily (Co. 1:19; 2:9-10), and the Son of Man, Who is fully made man from the pure and virginal womb of the Theotokos, lacking nothing save sin (Hb. 4:15; 1 Pe. 2:22), makes Himself all things for all mankind that He might save His people from their sins (Mt. 1:20-21).  As He says to the Baptizer who momentarily hesitates to stretch forth his hand on the pure and sinless head of his Master, “’Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness’” (Mt. 3:15).    

  Indeed, the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan continues to press home this very reality: that salvation comes from the hand of God in the waters of the flesh, in the divinized waters of the Jordan which, according to St. Gregory of Nyssa, are to be found “wherever you draw water.”  The Jordan now is made the source of all baptismal waters because of the saving and sanctifying immersion of our Lord in its waters, just as surely as the Supper there in the Upper Room on the night of Jesus’ betrayal is made the source of all the Eucharists of the Church.

The One mightier than His Baptizer has come, Whose sandal strap, John says, he’s not worthy to stoop down and untie.  But, the Mighty One, the Pantocrator in the flesh, now takes it upon Himself to stoop down lower than a common slave in order to loose His creatures from their sins.  God condescends – humbles Himself in obedience – to take on our flesh and our lot to set us free from all that shackles, binds, and chains us.  If the love of Christ God compels or constrains the Apostle to do what he must do to save souls, how much more (2 Cr. 5:13-15), brethren, does love itself compel and constrain our Lord Jesus Christ Who is pure and unadulterated love, the divine Source of love, to do likewise?  Love compels Him to become just like us, even up to and including death on the Cross (Pp. 2:5-11; Hb. 2:11-18)!  He does not shrink, Sacred Scripture says, from naming us His own and embracing us as His brethren.  In His great and irrepressible love for us sinners, as fallen as we are, He deigns nonetheless – insists, even! – to come down from Heaven and take to Himself quite voluntarily the very flesh He had handcrafted there in the Garden when He fashioned in His image to partake of His likeness the first man and woman (Gn. 1:26-27; WS 2:23; Morning Prayer #9; Nicene Creed)!  And, in this same love and unswerving intent to save us, He steps into the waters of the Jordan River and there, like the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement (Lv. 16:10, 20-22; Is. 52:13-53:12; Jn. 1:29, 36) He takes upon Himself – sinless though He be – the sins of the whole world like the true Lamb of God that He is – our sins, my sins, your sins – so that in the Mystery of Holy Baptism He washes us thoroughly clean and pure and whole and sinless, and He bestows on His baptized the “seal and gift of the Holy Spirit,” as promised (Lk. 3:1-18)!   

 “For though I am free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.”

Amen!  Amen!  Amen!

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.

Christ is baptized!  In the Jordan!


Gn. 1:1-13

Ex. 14:15-18, 21-23, 27-29

Ex. 15:22-16:1

Js. 3:7-8, 15-17

4 [2] Kg. 2:6-14

4 [2] Kg. 5:9-14

Is. 1:16-20

Gn. 32:1-10

Ex. 2:5-10

Jg. 6:36-40

3 [1] Kg. 18:30-39

4 [2] Kg. 2:19-22

Is. 49:8-15

1 Cr. 9:19-27

Lk 3:1-18