the-Baptism-of-JesusThe word “epiphany” has two meanings. One meaning is to “show forth” or “manifest.” The visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus’ cradle was an epiphany because they saw the star in the east and traveled all that way to give their witness that even foreigners from a distant land recognized God’s royalty. When they knelt down to pay the newborn homage, they demonstrated their faith.
 
But the word “epiphany” has a second meaning. An “epiphany” can also be a sudden realization or significant insight; a “moment of truth,” if you will.
 
According to both Mark and Matthew, when Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by John, the moment he came up out of the water, Jesus saw the Holy Spirit come down from heaven and alight upon him. Then he heard a voice from heaven, which said, “This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
 
Matthew clearly wants to communicate that this was an epiphany also. It was a sudden realization or deep insight, a moment of truth, for Jesus. Maybe Mary and Joseph knew, from the moment that Jesus was conceived, that he was God’s son. Maybe they knew he was the one whom God had sent to save the people of Israel. Maybe this was in the backs of their minds the whole time, and maybe they even brought Jesus up in the knowledge of his purpose and special relationship to God.
 
But as Matthew sees it, it was not until the moment of his baptism that Jesus realized the magnitude of it all.
 
We, who are baptized into Christ, become God’s beloved daughters and sons and God is well pleased with us too.
 
Baptism inaugurates us into Christ’s way of life. The dying and rising is the stuff of our Christian living. What enables us to say yes is that we know the dying always leads to rising: when we die to selfishness and rise to the needs of others; when we die to judgments and labeling others and rise to seeing all people as beloved of God; when we offer kind words instead of tearing down another- then our baptism is ongoing.

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