Faith & Life



This is the second article of a four-part series during January, which focuses on the “Manifestations of Christ’s Divinity.”

The Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove features four bronze bas-reliefs (a type of art in which shapes are cut from the surrounding stone so that they stand out slightly against a flat surface) inspired by the revelations of the New Testament: The Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, the Wedding Feast at Cana and the Transfiguration. Readers are encouraged to visit the cathedral and contemplate these images this month.

My 5 year old is currently in a “why” stage. Why is the sky blue? Why do leaf bugs look like leaves? Why can’t I have two desserts? Why do I have to go to bed now? The other day she came up with a hard hitter: If Jesus is God, then how did God send an Angel to tell Mary she would have baby Jesus? After beaming with pride that my kindergartener is obviously going to grow up to be a theologian, I answered her question with an explanation about the trinity and how Jesus is God the Son.

The nuances of the trinity are hard for little kids to understand though. It’s hard for adults too! I always have to give a disclaimer and a quick definition of a “Mystery” before the discussion is over.

I imagine that the trinity was as baffling to the eyewitnesses at Jesus’s baptism as it is to my five-year-old today. “He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove.” (Matthew 3:16) Did any of the onlookers recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit?

“A voice came from heaven, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:11/Luke 3:22) Did they know it was the voice of God? What did those witnesses think that “Son of God” even meant? Did they have any idea that they were witnessing the revelation of the Messiah—their very God?

My husband and I recently took a baptism prep class for our newest baby who’s being baptized this month. One of the points that jumped out at me was a meditation on the fact that we, by virtue of our own baptism, are beloved sons and daughters of the Father. Therefore, those words of God the Father at the Jordan River can be said of us as well. “You are my beloved son; in you I am well pleased.” God our Father is well pleased by us, whether or not we’ve done anything to deserve it yet (goodness knows, a newborn hasn’t).

Yet, Jesus Christ submitted himself to a baptism by human hands to establish the sacrament of our adoption. In doing so, He reveals both His own trinitarian Godhood and His very human relationship to each of us who are members of His body through that baptism.

As we meditate on the baptism of Jesus, which feast we celebrated earlier this month, I think we’re called to recognize both of these realities. Christ’s divinity: incalculable splendor as the second person of a trinity that we need metaphors and disclaimers to begin to understand, but also His humility and humanity, which humbles us in turn as we contemplate it.

He set aside the glory of His divinity to become the sacrifice for our salvation. Even when we stop to meditate on His humanity, we only come away with a deeper recognition of the enormity of His divinity.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of our creator and redeemer, who humbled Himself in the form of a helpless infant so He could sacrifice himself to save us who had done nothing to earn it. Let us praise God for both His magnificence and His humility as we contemplate the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity at His baptism in the Jordan.