Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Baptism of Suffering

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"I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!”
Luke 12:49-50 NASB

We have started a new series based on the last few verses in Luke 12. Jesus is speaking prophetically of things that were to come, not all in the distant future.

Yesterday, we learned about the fire of persecution. Previously, we've studied lessons from the life of Tyndale.

Today, we look at the coming baptism of Jesus. The word translated as "baptism" is baptista and literally means "immersion, submersion". It has come to indicate the Christian baptism by water but it also means an immersion in calamities and trials to which one is adverse. 

When Jesus spoke these words, He had already been baptized by John. He was not speaking of a water baptism. Instead, He was speaking of His coming crucifixion and death. Jesus knew what was coming, and He was distressed as He waited for it.

Jesus knew He would be betrayed, denied, arrested, beaten, have nails hammered into His hands and feet to secure Him to a wooden cross, left to die, be confined to a tomb for three days while He conquered death and sin, and rise again. Other than the rising again, there was nothing but horrible suffering in what was to come. 

I celebrate the cross but, I have to admit, I sometimes treat it as if it was just a "one stop along the way, no big deal, quick pain and it's over" event. 

It's clear from this verse that Jesus saw it quite differently. The death of Jesus and the events that preceded it were a long ordeal of agonizing torture. He knew what was to come, and He dreaded it. 

Taking on the sins of the world is not to be taken lightly. No mortal man could do it. Only Jesus, and He hated having it to do.

It was a baptism of suffering and He did it because it had to be done. Jesus embraced the suffering, the shame, the pain and did it with love and grace. He preached the importance of loving our enemies and He demonstrated that truth with His death. 

He loved us, despite what lay ahead.

This sacrifice of Jesus should change us. It should make us shout with joy and run into the streets shouting, "He did it! He did it for me!" 

It wasn't a casual sacrifice, like throwing a quarter into a beggar's cup. It was everything

Jesus gave all He had, and He did it for us all.

There are times when we, too, endure a kind of baptism of suffering. It can't compare with that of Jesus, but we can respond to our suffering with the grace of Jesus, and we should. We must. It is not my intention to trivialize our suffering. I've had some suffering of my own, and it was horrible and painful and I thought it would never end. But it did end, and it left me changed. I think it left me more like Christ than I was before. 

Suffering is very real, but we must allow God to take that suffering and use it to change us, make us more like Christ. As we face the suffering and pain of our lives again today, let us do it as Jesus did. He looked toward the joy on the other side of the suffering, kept His face turned toward heaven, and pressed on. So should we.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

Our Father, forgive my whining and self-pity. Help me to embrace the circumstances You have allowed into my life and use them to glorify You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

#suffering #perseverance #Ipresson #JesusChrist #disciple #myeyesareonthejoy