Christ Blessed the Waters and So We Are Saved by Water and the Spirit (Jan. 6)

Christ is baptized!

The word of the day is “saved.” On this Great Feast of Theophany, we reflect on the connection between the Baptism of Christ and our baptism.  In our reading of Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7, the apostle writes, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (vs. 4-6).

Note in the Greek text in verse 4 that the word “saved” is not in the form of a verb. It is a noun.  The passage reads that the Lord is called a “Savior,” “a Deliverer,” a “Rescuer” (Strong’s #4990, 246).  He appeared as God full of kindness and love for mankind” (vs. 3:4).

Only then does the text go on to declare that He saved us (vs. 5).  The means of our salvation is the cleansing of foolishness, disobedience, lusts, and pleasures, malice, hatred (vs. 3).  In place of them, we have the promise of eternal life (vs. 6).

 For Reflection

Our passage reads like an articulation of the principle of justification by grace. By the sacrifice of His only Son, the Almighty in, in His infinite mercy has counted us righteous in His sight. This justification is the assurance of the eternal life that God has promised (vs. 6).  Yet note that the grace of God apart from works does not exempt from good works those who are so made righteous before God Rather, the apostle says that we should “be careful to maintain good works” (vs.8).

Addendum

On this Great Feast of Theophany, we praise God the Holy Trinity for all He is and does.  Indeed, the Troparion of the Feast confesses the same.  “When you, O Lord were baptized in the Jordon, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.  For the voice of the Father bore witness to you and called you His beloved Son.  And the Spirit in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ, God, you have revealed yourself and have enlightened the world.  Glory to You!”(Hymnody 2022).  As the waters of creation are blessed today, so may we be blessed by the sprinkling of holy water.  And in everything may the Holy Trinity be glorified.

Works Cited

Hymnody, Orthodox Church in America. 2022. “Troparion Tone 4: Feast of the Theophany.” The Orthodox Church: The Lives of the  Saints. https://www.oca.org/saints/troparia/2021/01/06/100106-feast-of-the-theophany-of-our-lord-and-savior-jesus-christ.

 

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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