A few weeks ago I attended a friend’s church. As the service began, the choir began to sing an old hymn. It was a paraphrase of Martin Luther’s theological work, and it went like this:
When Jesus went to Jordan’s stream his Father’s will obeying,
And was baptized by John, there came a voice from heaven saying:
“This is my dear beloved Son upon whom rests my favor.”
And till God’s will is fully done he will not bend or waver, for he is Christ the Savior.
The Holy Spirit then was shown, a dove on him descending;
The Triune God is thus made known in Christ as love unending.
Sometimes we forget that the word “trinity” isn’t in the Bible. But the actual Trinity is all over the place – especially when we read the account of Christ’s baptism! Luke writes, “As he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:21-22).
In that moment all three persons of the Trinity are revealed at once. God the Father is heard through the opening of heaven and by the sound of his voice. The Holy Spirit descends to Christ in a form like a dove. And Christ is firmly planted in the waters of the Jordan River.
What I enjoy about this account is that it illustrates our access to the whole Triune God. We, like the others who were there that day, are baptized into Christ because of his incarnation and atonement. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are comforted and counseled. That same Spirit, with Christ as our brother/advocate, invites us back into communion with our heavenly Father, who says to us, through his Son: “You are my child, whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.