It is the first Sunday after the Epiphany. The title of today’s cantata is “Wer da gläubet und getauft wird” (He who believes and is baptized).
Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 1:4-11:
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism and Testing of Jesus
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Bach composed the cantata for the Feast of the Ascension, but its themes touch on the importance of baptism, and thus relate to today’s reading about the baptism of Jesus. The text of today’s cantata is available here. Movement 5 describes the blessing of baptism:
Faith creates the wings of the soul,
so that it may soar to heaven,
baptism is the seal of grace,
that brings us to God’s blessing;
and therefore he is called a blessed Christian
who believes and is baptised.