September 18 – Monday of the Sixteenth Week after Pentecost (1st of Luke) Luke 3:19-22
The Lord’s Baptism: Luke 3:19-22, especially vs. 21: “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized. . . .” The verses of the Orthodox baptismal service are closely connected with the Lord Jesus’ baptism: “For Thou, O our God, hath revealed Thyself upon earth, and dwelt among men. Thou didst hallow the streams of Jordan, sending down upon them from heaven Thy Holy Spirit.”
According to Saint Luke, Jesus is baptized during the time of Saint John the Forerunner’s ministry, “when all the people were baptized” (vs. 21). Christ received baptism in water, just as each of us is brought to the font. Altogether, Saint Luke’s account connects the Lord’s baptism with ours in five ways: presentation, challenge, prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the affirmation of sonship.
The baptismal service begins with candidate being presented to the Church by his sponsor(s). During this reception, the candidate remains passive. The priest lays a hand upon him and prays for him to find refuge in God’s name and for his growth in faith, hope, and love.
The exorcism that follows seeks to “prove him and search him, and root out of him every operation of the devil.” The priest breathes on the candidate’s mouth, brow, and chest “to expel from him every evil and impure spirit which hideth and maketh its lair in his heart.”
Christ, of course, presents Himself directly to the Forerunner for baptism. Although He is not exorcised, He goes forth immediately afterwards to battle Satan. After the exorcism, the priest challenges the candidate to renounce Satan “and all his works and all his service and all his pride,” and commands him to spit on the devil.
He then asks the candidate if he has united himself to Christ and believes in Him as King and God. He requires the candidate to confirm his faith by reciting the Nicene Creed. When he charges him to bow down before the Lord, the candidate responds.
The Forerunner similarly challenges the people gathered at the Jordan River, “preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (vs. 3). He calls on them to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (vs. 8). These exhortations are bold enough to incur the anger of Herod Antipas, for he rebukes the tetarch “for all the evils which Herod had done” (vs. 19).
Eventually, Herod arrests Saint John for publicly criticizing him (vs. 20). The Lord Jesus affirms John’s public challenges by being baptized by him in the Jordan (vs. 21).
Baptism calls for intense prayer at each stage of the rite: first during the presentation, exorcism, and examination of the candidate, then during the anointings that follow, and finally during the actual immersion and chrismation of the candidate. Note the evangelist’s mention of the fact that when Jesus “was baptized . . . He prayed” (vs. 21). The Lord continually sustains His relationship with the Father.
During the mystery of baptism, the Church prays for the candidate to be filled with the Holy Spirit. These prayers are offered at the conclusion of the examination, before the anointing of the water, and most especially during the administering of “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in chrismation. Likewise, “the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove” upon the Lord (vs. 22), empowering Him for the ministry to follow.
The baptismal candidate is reminded that he is now “no more a child of the body, but a child of [God’s] kingdom” – a child of the light, an heir of the heavenly kingdom. At the Jordan, following His baptism, the Lord hears the Father’s words, “You are My beloved Son” (vs. 22).
O Thou who didst receive baptism in the Jordan for our salvation, Christ our God, have mercy upon us and save us, forasmuch as Thou art good and loveth mankind. – Baptismal Prayer