During the time that John the Forerunner preached on the banks of the Jordan River and baptized people, Jesus Christ reached thirty years of age. He also went from Nazareth to the Jordan River to John to receive baptism from him.
John did not consider himself worthy to baptize Jesus Christ and began to shrink back from Him saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?”
But Jesus answering said to Him, “Suffer it to be so now,” — that is, do not hold back from me now, “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” — to fulfil everything in the Law of God and to set an example for people. Then, John obeyed and baptized Jesus Christ.
Upon completion of the baptism, when Jesus Christ came out of the water, suddenly the heavens were opened over Him; and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him and heard the voice of God the Father from Heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”
Then, John was finally convinced that Jesus was the expected Messiah, Son of God, Saviour of the world.
The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated in the Holy Orthodox Church as one of the great feasts on January 6th (January 19 NS). The celebration of the Baptism of the Lord is also called Theophany or the Manifestation of God because at the time of baptism God revealed Himself to people as the Holy Trinity in this way: God the Father spoke from Heaven, the incarnate Son of God was baptized, and the Holy Spirit descended in as a dove. Also, at the time of baptism for the first time, people could see that in the person of Jesus Christ there appeared not only man but also God.
The day before the feast is an established fast day. The same strict fast is observed and the same types of services are celebrated as on the Eve of Christ’s Nativity (Christmas). Because the Saviour by His own baptism sanctified the water, on this feast there is a blessing of water. On the day before, water is blessed in church and on the feast itself — under the open sky, in rivers, lakes, pools and wells. This Blessing of the Waters is often called “The Procession to the Jordan.”
Note: See the Gospels of Matthew, 3:13-17; Mark, 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34.
Troparion of the Feast.
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!