Summary: Epiphany Sunday - John’s Surprise is ours... John’s Surprise at Christ’s Humility John’s Surprise at Christ’s Obedience John’s Surprise at Chirst’s Divinity

The Epiphany of Christ’s Baptism

Text: Matthew 3:13-17


“May the words of my lips and meditations of my heart be always acceptable in Your sight, giving praise, glory and honor to your name, our Rock and Redeemer. Amen.

Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany, which in the Greek literally means to “shine forth”. It is a time for reflection upon the theophanies (visible manifestations) of Christ. In the Orthodox Church specifically, there is a heavy emphasis upon Christ’s baptism in the Jordan, as it is a moment of surprise as His true nature is revealed.


Don’t you just love surprises? I know I do, I can remember once as a kid, waiting at the bus stop while it was snowing. I waited and waited for almost ½ an hour I stood in the cold waiting for the bus. I thought to myself, this is unusual? Finally, a man came driving by in a truck, he rolled down his window and said, “didn’t you hear”, school is canceled today! I ran home with glee, thinking about what I was going to do with my day.

One of the reasons I love scripture so, is because it is full of surprises. It seems that every time I dig into the scriptures, God gives me a wonderful surprise.

Well today, I believe we are going to see that God has a few surprises in store for John the Baptist in Matthews’s narrative of Jesus baptism. So if you have your bible with you, please open up to Matthew 3:13-17.


Today I hope to show you that Johns surprise at who Christ is, is ours as well.


In our sermon time together we will look at:

• Johns Surprise At Christ’s Humility – v.13

• Johns Surprise At Christ’s Obedience – v.15

• Johns Surprise At Christ’s Divinity - v.16,17

TRANSITION: So let’s look at these surprises one at a time, beginning with…

I. Johns Surprise At Christ’s Humility


Observation – (v. 13, 14)

v.13 “Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John”

• One of the things we need to understand is that Jesus did not fit the requirements of a candidate for a baptism of repentance. Actually NO JEW DID! Particularly Jesus. Baptism was for the proselyte (literal Gk. “Stranger”), the dirty gentile if you will. (See Matthew 3:9 “we have Abraham for our father.”

• Actually, Jews in general were not baptized at all, baptism was for the gentile postulates. Yet Jesus not only came to the Jordan, where sinners were called to repentance, Jesus came to John, the prophet calling sinners to repentance.

• Yet Jesus came, and He came not just to the river Jordan where the sins of the repentant Jews had stained the waters, He came to John, His own cousin and He came humbly.

v.14 “John would have prevented Him, saying I need to be baptized by you!”

• I am certain that John an Essene, alone in the desert for so many years spent a lot of time considering the moment when the messiah would come. He probably had all of the details worked out in His mind.

• I am also certain John never considered the messiah to be humble, approaching him for of all things baptism?

• This is clearly demonstrated by Johns imperative statement, “I need to be baptized by You!”

Interpretation – (v. 13, 14)

• John was absolutely blown away that Jesus had come to the river Jordan that day. But I am certain He was even more surprised by the humility of Christ in not wanting to take over the baptism’s (John 4:2 “it was not Jesus who baptized but His disciples.) but rather to Himself be baptized.

• John was absolutely surprised by Christ’s humility. I am certain He expected Jesus to be far more aggressive and imperial like.

Illustration –

• Have you ever had unexpected guests? You know, your just going about your business and then it happens, the doorbell rings and outside awaits a group of people you which you could avoid.

• Well I think in a sense, that’s how John must have felt. Jesus showed up at the wrong time, in the wrong place and did all the wrong things.

• John must have been surprised at Jesus humility.

Application -

• May I ask you, who do you perceive Jesus to be?

• Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony Bloom said in his book “beginning prayer” – as soon as you consider Christ, you limit Him.

• What if Christ is not who you think He is? What if the surprise is on you and Jesus say’s to you the equivalent of “baptize me” or “let me wash your feet”? What if He is different that you expected?

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