“Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
A friend told me a baptism story from his previous church. The congregation planned to have a baptism service in a local river. The evening before the event, the church deacons put markers in the river, making a clear and safe path to ensure that their pastor and others would not tumble into deep water by accident. But several clever high school students in the congregation also went to the river that night and realigned the markers to their own liking. The next morning, at the designated time in the baptism service, the pastor turned and strode confidently into the river toward the place marked out for baptism. After a few steps, he plunged into deep water, just as the students had hoped. To their delight, the pastor himself was immersed.
Starting with Jesus’ earliest disciples, many of his followers have shown a willingness to go along with Jesus as a way to increase life’s comforts. Surely the one who heals the blind offers his followers benefits, doesn’t he? Over the centuries a connection to Jesus might get you a better job, a higher class of friends, a free dinner in a bread line, or a good seat.
But Jesus asks “perk-seekers” if they are willing to share in his suffering. Will we live a “baptized life”? Will we die to our ambition and rise to follow? Jesus switches priorities. In the baptismal life, the first are last and the last are first.
Jesus, you invite us deeply into your life. No secrets. No surprises. Only an honest invitation to take up our cross and follow you. Help us obey. Amen.
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