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Jesus’ Cup and Baptism

The disciples James and John asked a special favor of Jesus. They wanted to sit on His right hand and on His left in His Kingdom. These two disciples were brothers–the sons of Zebedee. Their mother, Salome, who was believed to be a sister of Virgin Mary, supported their aspiration. (Matthew 20:20 and Mark 10:35)

This request was not the first evidence of the deep-seated carnality that is a part of the human nature found in all of us–even in those who have responded to the call of Jesus and are following Him. Until the rays of light and truth shed by the Holy Spirit penetrate our hearts, we tend to be blind to our own carnality and cast critical glances at others–just like the ten other disciples were moved with indignation at the request of James and John.

Earlier in their time together, Jesus had somewhat embarrassed His disciples by asking them about a certain discussion they had among themselves as they were walking to Capernaum. They did not like to answer Him because they had been discussing which one of them should be the greatest in His kingdom. At that time Jesus took a child and set before them as an example, telling them that un­ less they would be converted and become as little children, they would not enter His kingdom.

Amazingly enough, immediately after Jesus made the solemn announcement concerning what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem, James and John came up with their re­quest. Even though Jesus did not grant it–saying it was not His to give–He promised them something far better and in keeping with the nature and attributes of His kingdom. He gave no allowance for the nurturing of pride and carnal ambition. Instead, He spoke to them of spiritual experiences which would humble their hearts and thus prepare them for service in His kingdom–a kingdom which was going to differ in more than one way from the kingdoms of this world. 

The Lord’s answer to this request is all important. It was significant not only for those asked it and the other disciples of Jesus, but for us today as well. What did He mean when He said that they would drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism? His reference was to the cup which the Father gave Him to drink in the Garden of Gethsemane. and to the baptism which He experienced when He suffered the death of the cross.

Let us first stop to consider the cup and its contents. What did it contain that caused Jesus to pray so earnestly for its removal? By the cup we understand the bitter suffering that was assigned to Him as our mediator. The cup contained the consequences of our disobedience–the curse of the ten-commandment law upon its transgressors. It contained the horrors of conscious guilt–for He drank it in our place and as our representative. It contained Satan’s fiercest temptations and all the sufferings which can befall both body and soul. And finally, it contained abandonment by God for He drank it alone surrounded by the powers of darkness.

And what of the baptism? His crucifixion was in full payment of our sin debt. God spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all. He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, so that we might be made the righteous­ness of God in Him. In His own body He bore our own sins on the tree that we, being dead, to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes we are healed.

Yes, dear friends. These words of our Lord show us that the pathway of discipleship does not go directly from the ecstatic experiences of the Mount of Transfiguration to the open tomb and the glory of the resurrection. It passes by way of Gethsemane and Calvary. These two disciples who made this request were with Jesus at His transfiguration. They were with Him in the garden where He drank the cup, and they shared in the glory of His resurrection. Even though they slept so near the place where the Lord prayed in the Garden, the time came when they experienced in their hearts their individual and personal responsibility for His passion. They drank of His cup and were baptized with His baptism. This created godly sorrow unto repentance in their hearts (I Corinthians 7: 10) which yielded a humble and contrite spirit.  Then the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy and who dwells in the high and holy place will also dwell with the one that is of a contrite and humble spirit to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contr1te one. (Isaiah 57: 15)

From the archives of the late Pastor A.C. Holmgren February 1991 Church bulletin

Submitted by Pastor Stan

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