For thirty years our Lord Jesus Christ did not reveal Himself in any way; He lived a domestic life.
At that time a special movement was underway in the people, which we now might call mass Baptism. People approached John the Baptist and received from him the ritual side of Baptism, that is, immersion in water. St. John the Baptist warned people that his Baptism was not sacramental: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance (Matthew 3:11).
He prophesied of Christ, saying that Christ would accomplish, along with Baptism, man’s complete rebirth: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire (Matthew 3:11).
The Lord is able to accomplish man’s rebirth without water, but He chooses water as an essential agent.
Perhaps this occurs because water, from the very beginning of creation, has served God’s economy. Recall that, at the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).
So Christ comes to the Jordan, where there were many people, where people were receiving Baptism from John. As if imitating these people, Christ was also Baptized. But something else happens: when Christ came out of the water, the Heavens opened, and the Spirit in the bodily form of a dove descended upon Him, while a voice came from Heaven: Thou art My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:11).
Therefore the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism is also called the Theophany.
Its consequences were enormous. And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days He did eat nothing (Luke 4:1-2). A battle with the devil, and his defeat, took place. When the devil saw that he had been defeated, he departed from Him for a season (Luke 4:13).
Christ the Savior reveals Himself openly to the people: He proclaims the Good News, heals, and performs miracles. At the same time, Christ indicates that we need grace-filed water in the working out of salvation: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). These words contain both allegory and an indication of actual water. He who is reborn himself becomes a source of grace-filled water: He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).
It is no accident that the Church so loves to perform the Blessing of Waters. It brings joy, cleansing, and strengthening. It simultaneously takes places visibly and invisibly. The Savior encourages our love for Holy Water by saying: If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink (John 7:37).
Let us cite yet another example of Holy Water’s strong mode of action, taken from the Old Testament. The Angel showed the Temple and the city with it to the Prophet Ezekiel. Further to the east was located the desert that was, as it were, cursed by God. There were the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, there was the Dead Sea; and this entire area was located far below the heights of Jerusalem, so that the water flowing from these heights could flow into that desert area. In his vision, the Prophet saw such irrigation of the desert area as was not in fact the case. Then the Angel drew the Prophet’s attention to the fact that under the threshold of the Temple there flowed water to the east. The Angel followed the flow of water to the east, and there was a measuring line in his hand, and he measured a thousand cubits with the measure; and he passed through the water; it was water of a fountain: and again he measured a thousand, and passed through the water; and the water was up to the thighs; and again he measured a thousand; and he passed through water up to his loins. And again he measured a thousand; and he could not pass through, for the water rose as of a torrent which men cannot pass over. And he said to me, Hast thou seen this, son of man? Then he brought me, and led me back to the brink of the river as I returned; and, behold, on the brink of the river there were very many trees on this side and on that side. And he said to me, This is the water that goes forth to Galilee that lies eastward, and it is gone down to Arabia, and has reached as far as to the sea to the outlet of the water: and it shall heal the waters. And it shall come to pass, that every animal of living and moving creatures, all on which the river shall come, shall live: and there shall be there very many fish; for this water shall go thither, and it shall heal them, and they shall live: everything on which the river shall come shall live. And fishers shall stand there from Ingadin to Enagallim; it shall be a place to spread out nets upon; it shall be distinct; and the fishes thereof shall be as the fishes of the great sea, a very great multitude. But at the outlet of the water, and the turn of it, and where it overflows its banks, they shall not heal at all; they are given to salt. And every fruit tree shall grow by the river, even on the bank of it on this side and on that side: they shall not decay upon it, neither shall their fruit fail: they shall bring forth the first-fruit of their early crop, for these their waters come forth of the sanctuary: and their fruit shall be for meat, and their foliage for health (Ezekiel 47:3-12).
You see, dear brothers and sisters, how in our life images indicate reality and reality itself cannot be fully expressed without the image. Therefore let us with fear and trembling approach the Blessing of the Waters, receive Holy Water, and strive to live the spiritual life that “wells forth unto life eternal” (from the litany of the Great Blessing of the Waters).
Translated from the Russian