Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."

Epiphany means manifestation – that is, how is something shown to be what it is. Epiphany begins with the coming of the wise men, they show that Jesus is the Christ by the gifts they offer, and because the come a distance just to worship him. At Epiphany we see that Jesus is not just the savior of Israel, but is savior of the world, he is our Savior.

How do we see Jesus? It is no surprise that the 1st Sunday of Epiphany is the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. What is revealed to us, what sign do we see, what is the witness? Our Text points to 3 things.

  1. the heavens are opened
  2. the Spirit descends like a dove
  3. the voice from heaven: "This is my beloved Son"

When God sets a standard for witnesses, he makes it clear that the matter shall be decided by the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses. We certainly have that at the Baptism of Jesus. Both God the Father, and the holy Spirit bear witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and we know that God doesn’t lie. John the Baptist is also a respected witness. In fact the whole point of the Gospel of Mark is to show that Jesus is the Christ. It is set forth plainly in the very opening: Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It reaches its conclusion in Jesus death on the Cross, and the witness of the centurion Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

The whole of the Gospel boils down to the simple message that God sent his Son to be our Savior. For the law shows us our sins and shows us the need for repentance, but it cannot change us, and it cannot bring us forgiveness. The Gospel tells us how God sent his Son to bring us the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and everlasting life.

Returning to our text, let us consider the significance of the events.

  1. the heavens are opened
  2. sin separates us from God, because of our sin we are afraid to approach God

  3. the Spirit descends like a dove
  4. sin cause us to have ears that do not hear, and hard hearts, by ourselves we cannot understand the things of God.

  5. the voice from heaven: "This is my beloved Son"

when we are in sin, we are not children of God, when we are in sin, the devil is our father – this is one of the great reasons not to continue in sin. Because of Sin we cannot do good – we need to be made a new creation.

Because Jesus is the Son of God, because he paid the price to save us also, because his word is true – Jesus is able to offer us blessings at our Baptism which are similar to those we see at his.

Jesus opens heaven to us

Jesus sends the Spirit to work faith in our hearts

Jesus makes us a new creation, makes us children of God and heirs of heaven.