Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

(Baptism of our Lord)

January 6/19

Theophany is the Feast which reveals the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of the Lord (Matt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). God the Father spoke from Heaven, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3: 17); Jesus Christ, the Son God was baptized by the St. John the Forerunner, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a dove. From ancient times, this Feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since God is Light and has appeared to illumine “those who sat in darkness,” and “in the region of the shadow of death” (Mt.4:16), and to save the fallen race of mankind by grace.

St. John of Damascus said that the Lord was baptized, not because He Himself had need for cleansing, but “to bury human sin by water,” to fulfill the Law, to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and finally, to sanctify “the nature of water” and to offer us the form and example of Baptism.

The icon depicts Christ standing in the river Jordan and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him in the form of a dove. St. John the Baptist in humility is seen baptizing his Master, giving in to Jesus’ instruction “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3: 15). Also, heavenly angels are seen ministering to Jesus, which furthers shows how the heavenly world is being united with the earthly world through the Incarnation of God in the flesh – Jesus Christ.