“Just as he was coming up
Out of the water,
Descended upon him
Like a dove.”
καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν·
The role of the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Jesus was very important. The four gospel stories show what happened to Jesus after he had been baptized Matthew, chapter 3:16, Luke, chapter 3:21-22, and John, chapter 1:32, are almost word for word the same as here. John did not mention a dove, while Luke called it a bodily form of a dove. Mark said that just as Jesus was coming up out of the water (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος), he saw the heavens torn apart (εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς). The Spirit descended upon him like a dove (καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν). The heavens opened up or broke open was a theme found among the prophets Isaiah, chapter 63:19, and Ezekiel, chapter 1:1. As Jesus came up from the water, not during the baptism itself, the Holy Spirit, as a dove, came to stay on Jesus. Just as the dove after the great flood in Genesis, chapter 8:8-12, heralded a new age, so too Jesus would preach the good news in this new age. With his prophetic vocation, Jesus was anointed with power to begin his public ministry of healing and exorcising. The later concept of the anointing of Jesus with the Spirit referred to this action of the dove, after his baptism in the Jordan. There was a clear distinction between the baptism of Jesus himself, and the specific dove bestowal of the Spirit that followed. Despite the fact that there was no indication of any real anointing in any of these baptismal accounts of Jesus, the coming of the Spirit, in the form of a dove, was considered a symbolic anointing of Jesus within the Judaic prophetic line. This incident functioned as the basis for an understanding of Jesus’ metaphorical anointing as “the anointed one,” “Christ.” This symbolic metaphorical anointing action gathered many of the Hebrew bible strands of a messianic king, a sacerdotal high priest, a servant, and a prophet into this one event. Within this process, the messianic time began with a pre-figuration of what was going to take place at the later Pentecost event, when the fullness of the Spirit came to all the followers of Jesus.