Theophany means the appearance of God. It is very important for us to understand that God wants to be known. He does not hide. He is not hidden. It is our sinfulness which clouds, darkens and blinds the eye of the heart, which in turn prevents us from seeing and knowing Him. Did not the Lord say, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God?
We have just celebrated the Nativity, the Enfleshment of the Son and Word of God. He was quietly born in Bethlehem and lived in submission to His Mother the Virgin Mary and to Joseph in Nazareth. By this He shows us how important humility, modesty and obedience are. We cannot lead a God-pleasing life, a truly Christian life, without humility, modesty and obedience. It was only when the fullness of time had come that the Lord Jesus appears at the Jordan,when the Holy Forerunner, Prophet and Baptist John began crying in the wilderness: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is only by repentance that the way of the Lord is prepared and there is no way to come to the Lord except by repentance.
To repent means to forsake one’s sinful way of life, to renounce oneself. Did not the Lord say, whosoever wishes to follow must must renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. To renounce oneself means to renounce one’s will. Does this surprise you? Then why to we pray: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. Why did Jesus pray in Gethsemane: “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” God is good. The will of God is good. Anything contrary to the will of God is not good. It’s as simple as that. By contradicting the will of God we separate ourselves from God - God does not separate Himself from us - and thus we die because God is Life and the Author of our life. To repent means to die to death and to live in God. Thus to live we must die. This is what Baptism is: dying to the world, sin, death and the devil and being born again by water and the Spirit in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thus as the people went out and listened to John, whom Christ called the greatest born of woman, and they were baptized, confessing their sins in the water. But this was a baptism of repentance, not of regeneration. This comes with Christ. Christ comes to be baptized, but John resists, knowing that it is he who needs baptism from Christ. But being obedient, He baptized our Lord, who immediately came out of the water as there was no sin to confess.
By His presence the water is sanctified. By His baptism, God is revealed to us. How? Coming out of the water the voice of God was heard saying: This is my beloved Son, and the Spirit in the likeness of a dove, descended and rested upon Him. Thus we know God to be Father, that He has a Son who has become man yet remains God, and that God has His Holy Spirit, which proceeds from God and rests in the Son. Thus the revelation of the Holy Trinity: God, who is the Father of the Son, un-originate, meaning He is the origin of all, God, the Word and Son of God, begotten not made, and God the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son.
O Holy Trinity our God, grant us true and profound repentance. Help us to die to the world that we may live in Thee. To Thee be honor and glory for evermore! Amen.