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When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”(Matthew 3:13-17)

Theophany or Epiphany, means the revelation or vision of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity created the world and thus is also present at renewal of the world:

1. The voice of God the Father.

2. The human incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

3. The Holy Spirit of God appearing like a dove.

The Forerunner and Baptist John, witnesses the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and hears the voice of God the Father. His body is bowed in worship and reverence towards the Incarnate God, Jesus Christ. With one hand he baptizes Christ while the other hand is raised in praise and worship, as if to say, "Behold, the Lamb of God" (John 1:29)
An axe is shown laying against a tree which illustrates John the Baptist's words, "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:9). It is the call, the warning, of repentance.
Christ is the central figure of the icon. He stands tall and is depicted almost as wide as the river, symbolizing his power and authority over nature. He is naked, revealing his true humanity. His legs are crossed, which would point to a foreshadowing of the crucifixion but as he appears to almost be walking, it also foreshadows his walking on the sea of Galilee.
Christ is not in need of the cleansing of baptism, but rather, all of fallen creation is is need of being baptized, cleansed and renewed. Christ accomplishes this through his incarnation and baptism. His right hand is shown as blessing the waters. Christ's presence and blessing of the waters, and the physical and spiritual rejuvenation it provides, continues to be experienced at every Service of the Blessing of the Waters at Epiphany.
Rather than fleeing from him, the fish come to their Creator, the Master of the fishers of men, and also, their presence illustrates a foreshadowing of the miracle of the large catch of fish, the feeding of the multitudes, the Ichthys symbol, as well as the many other references of fish in the New Testament.
Bowing with hands covered (a sign of reverence), Angels await to receive the newly revealed Son of God.
The two creatures symbolize the Jordan river and the Sea, fleeing from the feet of Christ, depicting the words of the Psalmist, "the sea saw and fled, the Jordan turned back" (Psalm 114). The miracle of the Jordan river turning back occurs every year on January 19th in Palestine.

January 6 / January 19
Troparion of Epiphany
When thou wast baptized in the Jordan O Christ, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest. For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God who hast appeared, Glory be to Thee.
Today You appeared to the world, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us as in fuller understanding we sing to You: “You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light.
Father Lawrence Aleria
a blessed epiphany
  • January 6, 2014
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Anastaziia Anastaziia
It's interesting as well, because in many icons, the river line goes over the head which gives an optical illusion of Christ fully submerged inthe water but also above the water as it mentioned in the text.
  • November 23, 2016
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