James and John’s Request
Jesus prepared the disciples for their future by teaching them about his suffering and death. After one of these times James and John asked him if they could sit at his side in the eternal kingdom. (Mark 10:32-34; Matthew 20:17-19; Luke 18:31-33)
Jesus responded with a question. He asked them if they were able to be baptized with the baptism that Jesus would be baptized with. They said that they were able.
Jesus told them that they would be baptized with this baptism. But he also told them that he was not the one who assigned the seats in eternity. Those seats would go to the people for whom they were prepared.
When we think of baptism we usually focus on its most common meaning. We think of the initiatory right into Christianity for new believers.
However, the core concept in baptism is identification.
Paul talked about how the Jewish people were baptized with Moses in the Crossing of the Red Sea, an event in which they were kept dry from water not sprinkled with or immersed in it. (1 Corinthians 10:2)
Jesus talked about his suffering and death as his baptism, a baptism which troubled him. (Luke 12:50)
What did Jesus mean when he said that James and John would be baptized with his baptism?
James was the first of the Twelve to die. He was executed by Herod not long after Pentecost. (Acts 12:2)
John was most probably the last of the Twelve to die. New the end of his life this last remaining apostle was rejected by some in the Christian community. He was also exiled by the Romans to the island of Patmos because of this faith. (3 John; Revelation 1:9)
Rejection and Death
Rejection and death seems to summarize how most of humanity has treated Jesus. In John’s Gospel both are emphasized. Jesus was the creator and humanity did not recognize him. John recorded Jesus’ teaching the night before he was crucified. That night, Jesus emphasized that his followers would not be treated any better then he was. (John 1:11; 15:18-16:4)
We will not be treated better than Jesus
Acceptance and a long life is not the norm. In fact, it may be an aberration.
How do you think most of the people in your local church would respond to rejection in society and the possibility of martyrdom?
What do you fear most in your life?
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