The Baptism of Our Lord is a movable feast day which is celebrated the first Sunday after the Epiphany. This means that it can fall anywhere from January 7th (if Epiphany is on a Saturday), to January 13th (as it does this year, when Epiphany was on a Sunday).
The baptism of Jesus is found in all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22), immediately before His temptation. In the Gospel of John, on the other hand, John the Baptist simply mentions what he observed when Jesus was baptized (John 1:32-34), but doesn’t give a firsthand account of the event.
Along with creation, this is the main time we see all three members of the Trinity present together. It also marks the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.
Today’s readings were about the Baptism of Jesus. It was interesting, because we actually read the accounts from Matthew 3:11-17, Mark 6-11, and Luke 3:21-22, and I always find it fascinating to compare what the Evangelists wrote that was the same, and what was different. It’s also interesting to see how some of the events were recorded in a much more concise fashion, while some were more descriptive. Each reading also began, (where applicable), before the actual baptism story, and shared a little information about John the Baptist, and his words of prophecy about Christ, the One “whose sandals [John was] not worthy to carry,” or “untie.” The symbol for these readings is a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, Who came bodily down from Heaven at the Baptism, and, along with the voice of God the Father, marks a rare instance in the Bible when all three Persons of the Godhead are mentioned together in the same place.
It’s funny how soon after the end of Advent that we’re hearing about John the Baptist again in the Scripture readings and hymns, but today is the perfect day for it, as he was the one to baptize Jesus!
To Jordan’s river came our Lord,
The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light,
The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.
The Savior came to be baptized–
The Son of God in flesh disguised–
To stand beneath the Father’s will
And all His righteousness fulfill.
As Jesus in the Jordan stood
And John baptized the Lamb of God,
The Holy Spirit, heav’nly dove,
Descended on Him from above.
Then from God’s throne with thund’rous sound
Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is My Son,” was His decree,
“The one I love, who pleases Me.”
The Father’s word, the Spirit’s flight
Anointed Christ in glorious sight
As God’s own choice, from Adam’s fall
To save the world and free us all.
Now rise, faint hearts, be resolute;
This man is Christ, our substitute!
He was baptized in Jordan’s stream,
Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme. Lutheran Service Book #405