And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up immediately out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
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Ambrose of Milan
Ambrosiaster, Serm. 12. 4: For, as we have said, when the Saviour was washed, then the water was cleansed for our baptism, that a laver might be ministered to the people who were to come. Moreover, it behoved that in Christ’s baptism should be signified those things which the faithful obtain by baptism.
He . went up Christ was in the river when he was baptized. As soon as he went out, and was praying, says St. Luke, (iii. 21,) the heavens were opened to him, or in favour of him; and he saw the Spirit of God descending: i.e. Christ himself saw the shape of the dove, which was also seen by the Baptist, as we find, John i. 33. And it was perhaps seen by all that were present.
As a dove, or like a dove in a bodily shape. The dove was an emblem of Christ's meekness and innocence. (Witham)
Calmet supposes that it was St. John that saw the Spirit of God descend thus upon Jesus Christ. The Greek text is favourable to this interpretation. But the Vulgate supposes it was Jesus Christ himself. St. John declares that he saw the Spirit; (John i. 32,) but this apparent disagreement is easily cleared, by supposing that both saw the shape of the dove, and also the surrounding crowd, and that they all heard the voice of the Father, as it was heard by the disciples in the transfiguration on Mount Tha...
Not by an actual cleaving of the visible element, but to the spiritual eye, as Ezekiel also in the beginning of his book relates that he saw them.
It sat on the head of Jesus, that none might suppose the voice of the Father spoken to John, and not to the Lord.
This action of Christ’s has a figurative meaning pertaining to all who were after Him to be baptized; and therefore he says, “straightway He ascended,” and not simply “He ascended,” for all who are worthily baptized in Christ, straightway ascend from the water; that is, make progress in virtues, and are carried on towards a heavenly dignity. They who had gone down to the water carnal and sinful sons of Adam, straightway ascend from the water spiritual sons of God. But if some by their own faults make no progress after baptism, what is that to the baptism?.
For had the actual creation of the heavens been opened, he would not have said, "were opened to Him,” for a physical opening would have been open to all. But some one will say, What, are the heavens then closed to the eye of the Son of God, who even when on earth is present in heaven? But it must be known, that as He was baptized according to the ordinance of humanity that He had taken on Him, so the heavens were opened to His sight...
Wherefore were the heavens opened? To inform you that at your baptism also this is done, God calling you to your country on high, and persuading you to have nothing to do with earth. And if you see not, yet never doubt it. For so evermore at the beginnings of all wonderful and spiritual transactions, sensible visions appear, and such-like signs, for the sake of them that are somewhat dull in disposition, and who have need of outward sight, and who cannot at all conceive an incorporeal nature, but are excited only by the things that are seen: that so, though afterward no such thing occur, what has been declared by them once for all at the first may be received by your faith.
For in the case of the apostles too, there was a sound of a mighty wind, Acts 2:2 and visions of fiery tongues appeared, but not for the apostles' sake, but because of the Jews who were then present. Nevertheless, even though no sensible signs take place, we receive the things that have been once manifested by th...
For inasmuch as many supposed that John was greater than He, because John had been brought up all his time in the wilderness, and was son of a chief priest, and was clothed with such raiment, and was calling all men unto his baptism, and had been born of a barren mother; while Jesus, first of all, was of a damsel of ordinary rank (for the virgin birth was not yet manifest to all); and besides, He had been brought up in an house, and held converse with all men, and wore this common raiment; they suspected Him to be less than John, knowing as yet nothing of those secret things—and it fell out moreover that He was baptized of John, which thing added support to this surmise, even if none of those mentioned before had existed; for it would come into their mind that this man was one of the many (for were He not one of the many, He would not have come with the many to the baptism), but that John was greater than He and far more admirable:— in order therefore that this opinion might not prevai...
As by the immersion of His body He dedicated the laver of baptism, He has shewnthat to us also, after baptism received, the entrance to heaven is open and the Holy Spirit is given, as it follows, “and the heavens were opened.”.
ap. Anselm: Seven excellencies in the baptized are figured by the dove. The dove has her abode near the rivers, that when the hawk is seen, she may dive under water and escape; she chooses the better grains of corn; she feeds the young of other birds; she does not tear with her beak; she lacks a gall; she has her rest in the caverns of the rocks; for her song she has a plaint. Thus the saints dwell beside the streams of Divine Scripture, that they may escape the assaults of the Devil; they choose wholesome doctrine, and not heretical for their food; they nourish by teaching and example, men who have been the children of the Devil, i.e. the imitators; they do not pervert good doctrine by tearing it to pieces as the heretics do; they are without hate irreconcileab...
He was baptized at the age of thirty; for by this age one has experienced all the sins. In the first ten years, there is great foolishness; in the second, during adolescence, the great flame of desire and anger; and in the years of adulthood, great avarice. Jesus waited for this age, therefore, so that He could fulfill the law in all the ages of a man, and sanctify us.
The Manichean heretics say that He left His body in the Jordan and thereafter displayed another, illusory, body. But their mouths are shut by this, for it says, "Jesus went up"; it was not another who went up, but He Who went down into the water.
Adam had closed the heavens, but through Christ they are opened, so that you may learn, O reader, that when you are baptized, you, too, open the heavens.