First, the Baptism of Jesus is a restatement of Last Sunday’s feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word epiphany by itself means bringing to light what has been hidden. Last Sunday’s Feast of the Epiphany brought to light the divine nature concealed in Christ’s humanity.
We in the western world like to think of Christ’s divinity being first acknowledged in the adoration of the Magi, but many Eastern Catholics say that the Baptism of Jesus as the best expression of the Epiphany. They ask what could be more dramatic than to think of Jesus, waist deep in the Jordan, with God from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”
There is a second great Christian truth expressed in the Baptism of Jesus. Matthew told us that John did not want to baptize Jesus, but Jesus insisted, saying it had to be done to "satisfy all justice." What might that mean?
In his Letter to the Ephesians St. Paul said he was given the privilege of announcing God’s secret plan for mankind. He said God secret plan was to “Sum up all things in Christ.”
In other words, God’s plan was to have all of human history somehow summed up in Jesus. Just as the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, and then spent forty years in the desert, so Jesus comes up from the water to spend forty days in the desert. He was re-living Jewish history in miniature.