(Icon: Baptism of Christ, by Theophanes the Cretan, 1535)
40.) The Theophany (Baptism) - Throughout these theses, we have been putting forward a way of looking at the human story of fall/redemption as a simple matter of orienting oneself toward God (saying Yes to God) or away from him (saying N0). The two first events of his ministry--baptism and temptation--can also be understood in this paradigm. It is at the event of Jesus’ baptism that the story of his ministry begins. The Gospel writers were keen to explain the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus, and why Jesus would need to come to John for a baptism of repentance. The clearest supposition would seem to be that Jesus (perhaps still not knowing the whole truth of his full identity—see Thesis #39), came to John’s baptism as a witness to his constant volitional choice to orient himself to God, to say Yes to God and no to sin, as he was always doing throughout his life.
41.) The Temptation in the Desert and the Recapitulation of the Human Story - Jesus continues to recapitulate within himself the story and identity of humanity (going into the desert to be tempted by Satan for 40 days, a recapitulation both of Adam and Eve’s temptation and of Israel wandering in the desert), always acting as part of the cohesive act of the whole Trinity (“driven by the Holy Spirit…”). After confronting Satan himself and triumphing over him where Adam/Eve had capitulated (triumphing, it should be noted, by explicitly saying no to self and Yes to God), he began his ministry.