Matter is spiritual; it is the agent of creation and re-creation. In and through Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan, the nature of the waters is changed: the whole of creation is re-created, and humanity’s salvation is revealed.
St. John Chrysostom says: “We know that the water did not cleanse Him, the most holy and sinless One; but it was He who sanctified the water by deigning to be washed by it”
Christ’s physical body is the cause and means of our salvation. That’s why the Eucharist is a physical meal. We anoint with real oil. We immerse ourselves in the atoms that make up what we call water. These are not symbols. They are the material reality of a physical life in Christ.
The spiritual life, our salvation, does not consist of escaping from our bodies, but is the redemption, transfiguration and transformation of our bodies into a new glory. We are not trying to be “unclothed” in some spiritual escape from the body, but “further clothed”, meaning that we put on Christ as a glorious garment. This is the very reason Christ became incarnated and put on human flesh.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
(Cf. Fr. Corey)