St. Maximus of Turin [+423AD] on the Baptism of Christ

Your holiness remembers, brethren, that on the day of the Most Blessed Epiphany we said that the Lord was Baptized in the Jordan, and we further said that He wished to be consecrated by this Mystery more for our sakes than for His Own. It is clear that He accomplished all these things on our account. Why would a consecration have been necessary for His benefit, He Who is Himself a Sacrament? What would the Solemnizing of a Mystery have profited Him in Whom is the Fulness of Mystery? For Fulness is in Him, as the Apostle says: “For in Him the Whole Fulness of Divinity Dwells Bodily.” And again the Evangelist says: “From His Fulness we have all received.” Thus He in Whom the Fulness of Divinity existed did not lack for anything so as to require completion by the Mysteries of the Sacraments, but He willed to go through the Mystery not that He Himself might attain perfection but that the Fulness of the Mystery might profit us. For this reason, when John the Baptist resists Him and says: “I ought to be Batpized by Thee, and comest Thou to me?” the Lord tells him: “Let it be so for now, for thus it behooves us to fulfill all righteousness.”  “To fulfil,” He saith, “all righteousness.”  When the Lord is Baptized, then, Righteousness does not justify Christ, but Righteousness is itself made Holy by Christ, and unfulfilled virtue is Fulfilled by Him in Whom is the Fulness of Virtues. Therefore John saith: “I ought to be Baptized by Thee.”  He bears witness to the Lord’s not having been Baptized for His Own Sake because John demands that he be Batptized before the Lord is Baptized by him. In saying this he shows that there is a Greater Grace in the Mystery of the Lord than there is in the master [John] of the Mystery.  For how would he have been able to bestow consecration on Him from Whom he himself desired to receive sanctification? The master of the Mystery was inferior in his merits to the disciple in His holiness. For in comparison to Christ the master is inexpert, righteousness unfulfilled, and the water sullied. But when the Lord is Baptized, by His Blessing the mastery is perfect, righteousness is fulfilled, and the water is purged.

Although it had been harsh and cold, the water is purged and endowed with the Warmth of the Lord’s Blessing, so that what had removed material stains a little before now cleanses the spiritual stains of souls. Nor should we be surprised that we speak of water, which is something of bodily substance, as cleansing the soul. There is no doubt that it comes and penetrates into all that is secret in the conscience. For although it is already subtle and fine, yet, having become even more subtle by Christ’s Blessing, it passes through the hidden tissues of life to the recesses of the soul like a spiritual dew. For the current of blessings is more subtle than the flow of waters. Hence we have also said that in the Baptism of the Saviour the Blessing which flowed down like a spiritual stream touched the outpouring of every flood and the course of every stream. When Christ stood in the Jordan the flood of waters moved wondrously, but the Flood of Blessings also Flowed. In the one the river’s stream was borne more violently, while in the other the Most Pure Font of the Saviour diffused itself. And in a certain wonderful way the consecration of that Baptism went back to the source of the Jordan, and the Flow of the Blessings was carried in the opposite direction to the flow of the waters, which is the reason, I think, that David said: “The Jordan is turned back.”  For in the Baptism of Christ it was not the waters of the Jordan that urned back but the Grace of the Sacrament, and it returned to the source of its own being in Blessing rather than in substance, inasmuch as the Grace of Consecration was dispersed to every stream, it may be seen that its own onrush was called back to the beginning of its flow.

[Sermon 13 B, Sequel to the First Sermon on Epiphany (Theophany)]