The Baptism of Our Lord as an Epiphany of His Glory
In both the Baptism of our Lord and His Transfiguration — generally observed among Lutherans on the first and final Sundays of the Epiphany Season, respectively — the voice of God the Father and the anointing of the Holy Spirit confirm that Jesus is the Christ, the beloved and well‑pleasing Son of God in human flesh and blood like our own. And both of these impressive manifestations of our Lord’s deity serve as turning points toward His Cross and Resurrection.
The significance of Jesus’ Baptism by St. John in the Jordan River must be acknowledged, as our Lord Himself declares that it was fitting “to fulfill all righteousness” (St. Matthew 3:15), and St. John the Baptist indicates that it was the means whereby the Father identified Jesus as “the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit” (St. John 1:32-34). Indeed, it is the culmination of St. John’s Advent preaching and ministry, whereby he (as a priestly son from a priestly family) anoints the Lamb of God for His sacrificial death upon the Cross, and whereby the God and Father of the same Lord Jesus Christ anoints Him with the Holy Spirit for the sake of our Salvation in Him.
Dr. Luther’s majestic hymn, “To Jordan Came the Christ Our Lord” (LSB 406/407), the Hymn of the Day for the Baptism of Our Lord, along with the Epistle appointed for that festival in each year of the three‑year series (Romans 6:1–11), catechize us in the ongoing significance of our own Holy Baptism into Christ Jesus. As He submitted to St. John’s “Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (St. Mark 1:4), and He was baptized “when all the people were baptized” (St. Luke 3:21), so was He baptized into His own death (St. Luke 12:50; St. Mark 10:32–38), in order to fulfill all righteousness for all people in His Resurrection. Therefore, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16), because they share His Cross and Resurrection and receive the Holy Spirit and the Blessing of His God and Father in the waters of Holy Baptism.