Without water, creation would not exist. On Jan. 6, the nativity season was officially over as we celebrated theophany, the baptism of Christ. At this beginning of Christ’s mission, our trinitarian God gives His full blessing.
“When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.” (Orthodox hymn)
This was also the first time Jesus and John had met since John had leapt for joy inside Elizabeth’s womb at the approach of Mary. As an infant, Jesus had been a refugee, driven from his home into Egypt to escape the death sentence imposed by Herod on all male children age two and under. Orthodox tradition tells us thousands were killed, and not just babies. Among them was Zacharius, John’s father. Soldiers, sent specifically to Zacharius to discover baby John’s location, slaughtered him behind the altar when he wouldn’t reveal his son’s whereabouts. Elizabeth, John’s mother, had fled into the desert to hide her son. She eventually died there and tradition tells us John remained in the desert until his time.
As a grown man, John emerged from the desert, the new Elijah to proclaim the coming of the Lord. John again recognized Jesus for who He was, claiming he, John, needed to be baptized by Jesus, not the other way around.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)
God entered creation as Jesus Christ and experienced all of humanity, from birth to death, cleansing and redeeming all that He had made. He conquered death by His own death and resurrection, creating a way for us, His creation, to be rejoined to our creator, if that is what we choose to do.
Belief or not in the existence of Christ is immaterial to a person’s ultimate destination. Even the devils believe in His existence and they tremble. Reunion with God is not based on conforming to a bunch of rules and regulations (thou shalt or shalt nots); reunion is inevitable. Jesus came that we might live more abundantly, and that doesn’t refer to the accumulation of material abundance. Jesus is the embodiment of love, giving all people the opportunity to have abundant fellowship with each other, to forgive, to love, to help, to have abundant life in God and His creation. Every person will ultimately stand before God and will either rejoice in His love or cower before it depending upon his love for others.
Christ was born so we might live in the presence of God. Even if someone doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ, if he is living his life loving others, he is living as if he does believe. On the other hand, if someone claims to believe in Christ but is living a life hating, abusing and taking advantage of others, then despite his protestations of love for God, he does not believe.
Christ entered the world to flood the world with His love. He stepped into the Jordan to be baptized, to be anointed for His mission. In turn, His presence sanctified the waters. Since water is the lifeblood of creation and is necessary for its survival, this sanctification, this redemption, this love flowed through the water anointing, refreshing and renewing all of creation.
This was the beginning. God lived in creation to show us how to live in love. He died in love to conquer our ultimate enemy, death. He rose so we might live with Him.
“Today the waters of the Jordan are transformed into healing by the coming of the Lord. Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the whole creation shines with light from on high. Today things above keep feast with things below. Today earth and sea share the joy of the world and the world is filled with gladness.” (Orthodox prayers blessing the waters)
Drink of His love.