Monday, March 28, 2011

Thoughts on the Baptism of Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17

(NOTE: I’ve been attending a Bible study at the local Melkite Community, an Eastern Rite Catholic Church, which is similar to Orthodox in many ways. From time to time, I’ll be sharing what I learn through that study.)

I always knew the Old Testament prefigured Christ, but I’m finding that more and more through this study. For instance, the Creation mirrors Christ’s baptism in several ways: God speaks, and when He speaks, he says similar things. In Creation He says, “It is good.” In Jesus’ baptism He says, “I am well pleased.” In Genesis the Spirit of God hovers over the waters, and in Jesus’ baptism the Spirit of God alights on Christ. God makes man in His own image and likeness, which is prefigurative of the Sonship of Christ. (Christ is the New Adam.)

Think of Israel crossing the Red Sea. Israel goes through the water and into the wilderness for 40 years. Christ goes into through the water and into the desert for 40 days. Of Israel, God says, “Out of Egypt I have called My son,” speaking again of the Sonship of Christ. (Christ is the New Israel.) And how are the waters of the Red Sea parted? By “a wind from the east” (which speaks again of the Spirit.)

Note that in both of these Old Testament passages, there are hints of the Trinity, as both speak of the Sonship of Christ, though indirectly, and both hint of the Spirit. (And remember in Genesis, God says, “Let US make Man in OUR image.”) And in the baptism of Jesus, we see the first “official” mention of the Trinity in the Bible, when God the Father’s voice speaks from Heaven, saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and the Spirit of God descends like a dove and alights on Christ.