“I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!”
As we journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, there are lessons to learn and warnings to heed. After giving some strong words about watchfulness and readiness, Jesus shared his feelings about what was facing him. There was great suffering ahead!
Jesus used the imagery of fire to portray judgment. It was common to think of using fire for refining precious metals, for cleansing in the process of removing impurities, or removing the good from the bad. In the picture Jesus was using here, it meant separating the wicked from the righteous. But first he had “a baptism to undergo”—and that was a picture of dying and then rising to new life (often symbolized by going under water and coming up out of it).
This baptism Jesus spoke of would include the suffering of rejection and humiliation, the agony of hanging on a cross, and finally death. Naturally, this caused him distress. But he faced it resolutely until on the cross he could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Now we need to accept and believe in his accomplished salvation, realizing that doing so may cause division in our families, among friends, at work, and in our communities. Accepting Jesus’ gift by faith will lead to experiencing our own “baptism” as we face an unfriendly world. But he has promised to be with us! (See Matthew 28:20.)
Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to endure a baptism beyond words. We thank you for providing our salvation. Help us to be faithful. In your name, Amen.
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