Until the 4th century AC. The church used to celebrate Christmas and Epiphany together as one feast and used to call it (Epiphania) meaning the feast of divine apparition, simply because these 2 feasts embody one idea which is "announcing the divinity of the Lord Christ". But later the church found out that it is better to separate both feasts to give Epiphany feast its due significance and importance. Thus the Coptic Orthodox church has celebrated on 29 Kiak the nativity of Jesus Christ as the angels announced His birth for the salvation of the whole world.
Today, 11th Toba, the church celebrates the glorified Epiphany feast "the feast of the Divine Apparition". It is the feast of establishing the sacrament of Holy Baptism. The church ordered that such a great feast must be celebrated. In the book of the Apostolic Teachings (Deskolia) it is mentioned: "let this feast be honored amongst you because the Lord has started revealing His Divinity while being baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. Let it be celebrated on the 6th day of the 10th month of the Hebrew's calendar and on the 11th day of the 5th month (Toba) of the Egyptian Calendar you should not work on that day, becauseon that day, the Divinity of Christ was revealed and the Holy Father testified to Him during Baptism and the Holy Spirit rested upon Him in the shape of a dove". St. John Chrysostom said, "Epiphany feast is an important feast in the church, it marks the appearance of God on earth".
vWhy was the Lord Christ baptized?
We all know that baptism is a New Birth for humans. It is through baptism that man is restored to his primary position once more through the blood of Christ. But the Lord Christ does not need forgiveness of sin as He is the Only One without sin in the whole world. He himself said: "who can find fault with me!!" (John 8:46). Even Pontius Pilate said about Him: "Not one fault I find in him" (John 18:38)
Therefore, the Lord Christ was baptized in river Jordan, although He is in no need for Baptism, only to establish the sacrament of baptism in river Jordan. Since the New Testament baptism must be carried out by a priest so the Lord Jesus was baptized by a priest who is a son of a priest, namely John the Baptist .. To establish this great sacrament.
Baptism is a new birth for the one baptized who receives the grace of adoption (Rom. 8:15, 83), (Galati 5:4) and (Eph. 5), so in the river Jordan while the Lord Christ was being baptized God, the Father announced the Divinity of the Son and it is in the son that we receive the grace of adoption. The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21)
vAlso Jesus Christ was baptized to sanctify the water and open up the gates of heaven.
He sanctified the waters by being baptized in it preparing for us the gift and grace of adoption. He sanctified the waters and prepared us to receive the Holy Spirit to purify us and absolve us from our sins through being baptized in His Holy Name.
Before the baptism of Christ the water of baptism had no effect or power to renew the self. That's why we hear John the Baptist saying, "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, nut He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire."
After the baptism of Christ the water became effective with a fiery power. St. Gregory of Nisus says, "As a mother's womb has the power to give physical life, so has the water of baptism received power to grant spiritual life". Also, St. Paul says, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27)
So, baptism opens up the gates of Heaven for those baptized, those gates that were closed as a result of Adam's fall which passed down to all Adam's descendants, to the extent that David, the prophet said, "I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5).
Baptism purifies us from our sins. Jesus so loved the church that He died on the cross to give it salvation and established the sacrament of baptism to sanctify His church physically and spiritually. " .. Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephs. 5:25-27).
vJesus was baptized to reveal His Divinity: in the river Jordan God the father announced His Fatherhood to the Son and the divinity of the Son. He said" this is my beloved Son in whom I rejoice". Being a son to god the Father is neither physical nor materialistic but rather a spiritual one. It is like the thought immerging from the mind and the light from light. It is an external one, "the Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His Being, sustaining all things of His powerful word" (Heb 1:3) this means that there wasn’t any moment when God the Father was without the Son. The Son exists in Him and with Him since eternity.
St. Athanasius says, "As the water flows from its source, and as the sun ray is related and connected to the sun, so is the Son, the 'Word' is connected and related to God the Father since eternity. Never can we imagine God the Father ever existed without His 'Word', the Son".
As for the name to the 'Word' as 'the Son of God', this is exclusive to the Lord Christ, no human or any other creature could ever share it with Him. In river Jordan God the Father revealed His nature, the trinity, one essence.
The Son incarnated standing in the river Jordan, God the Father calling upon Him from the Heavens from up high and the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove resting upon His head. Note that the Holy Spirit was not incarnated as a dove but only appeared is its shape, just to be son clearly, as the dove is timid symbolling peace (Gen. 8:11). "Gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:4).
The sign of the diving apparition (heaven opened up)
Isiah prophesied this divine appearance when he said, "Hope you would split up the Heavens and come down" (Isa. 61:1). St. Matthew and St. Luke expressed the same idea of the Heavens being opened up, in their gospels. St. Stephan witnessed the opened Heavens and even saw "the glory of God and Jesus on the right hand side of God" (Acts 7:55). St. John, the beloved, witnessed the same thing while in Patmos isle (Rev. 19:11). St. Peter, as well, saw the opened Heavens in his vision (Acts 10:11). All this prove that the path between Heaven and earth is opened by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, glory be to Him. For He said, "From now on you shall see the Heavens opened and the angels of God descending and ascending upon the son of man" and when the Heavens was opened the voice was heard saying, "Behold, this is my beloved Son in whom I rejoice" (Matt. 3:17). This voice was heard thrice. The first time during baptism (Mark 1:11). The second on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). The third time was just before his pains on the cross (John 12:28).