I was just reading in Luke 12, and stumbled on this peculiar thing that Jesus said. “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!”
Yesterday, I watched a friend get “dunked” in our little white church-house’s baptistery, and we all cheered and clapped and rejoiced! We knew that surrender to Jesus is the only way to fully live! We knew that her proclamation of faith was the only one that ultimately mattered for eternity.
But Jesus seems to be casting baptism in a different light. He saw the death in it.
Jesus wasn’t talking about heading down to the Jordan to get dunked. He’d already done that with His burly, locust-eating cousin. He was speaking of His own death. He knew that baptism is a symbol of death. Resurrection, as well. But we tend to brush over the death part. And Jesus didn’t miss the symbolism.
I just returned from Nepal, about 6 weeks ago. Since I returned, a friend told me that they had just heard of a Nepali Christian being burned at the stake for their faith… I mean, since I’ve been back this has taken place.
There are tons of countries, around this world, where it can and probably will cost you your life to follow Jesus. But in America, we just don’t see that, so we think that God is there to make us happy, wealthy and superior to all of the other “lesser humans” we live among. I’m pretty sure this mentality would have made Jesus throw-up. I know it makes me want to. And where do we get off thinking that we’re better, rather than just incredibly blessed?
But in Nepal, the believers there have soul-richness and unity that I have rarely found in the States. Because they know that they have Christ in common and that’s all that matters. And they know that Jesus is worth dying for. Because He honestly is!
And evidently, Jesus thought we were worth dying for, as well. Because He went through with His baptism. He fought so hard against His own humanity that wanted to turn away from His suffering that He sweat blood in Gethsemane, and He eventually looked down on a hateful, jeering crowd that had just punctured His hands and feet with 9 inch nails, and asked His Father to forgive them.
The baptisms that He has called us to are never as hard as the one He underwent! Still, He calls us to die to ourselves, daily even. He calls us to surrender to the life He has for us. To the duties and sacrifices of His Kingdom. And in the surrender we find that glorious resurrection… and fullness of joy!