The Baptism by Fire
What is the meaning of the washing away of our sins?
When were our sins washed away?
Well, there was only one day in all of history that our sins were washed away, and that was when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon. That was the only time in history that any sins were washed away.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
Which Baptism is in view in verses 38 and 39?
The Lord Jesus is going to suffer on the cross, and He calls it a Baptism. We should read this as a washing. The Lord Jesus is going to wash away our sins that are cleaving to Him, and He is going to wash them away by enduring the penalty that was required for each of them. That penalty is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Only if Christ is God could He endure such a penalty without being consumed.
Therefore, which Baptism, or which washing is in view in this passage?
It is the Baptism by fire, or also called the washing by fire.
And what did the Lord Jesus promise James and John?
They too would be baptized by this fire.
Does this mean that James and John would be crucified, like the Lord Jesus?
Well we know that James was not crucified, he was beheaded. And John was not crucified either. John lived to a ripe old age, and instead of being crucified he was exiled to the island of Patmos. What then did the Lord Jesus mean when He said to them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized”.
How do we interpret these words?
Well, we have read earlier in Ephesians 1:4-5 that all the elect, all those who have been chosen by the Father, and that certainly includes James and John, were in Christ before the foundation of the world. If we were in Christ, then we were crucified with Christ, we died with Christ when He died, we were buried with Christ when He was buried, we were raised with Christ when He rose from the tomb, and we ascended with Christ into the heavenlies when He ascended into heaven.
Most certainly, these are things which the Bible affirms in several places. And thus, when Christ endured the penalty of Hell, and He came out at the other end of Hell, we too went through Hell with Him and in Him, since He is our representative in the spirit.
This is how “we indeed did drink of the cup that Christ drank of; and with the baptism that He was baptized withal we were baptized”, not physically, but in the spirit, because He is our representative in the spirit.
This is our Baptism by fire. That is why God will never send us to Hell again, because we have already been there. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”. James and John did suffer persecution, but these words that Jesus spoke in Mark 10:39 did not refer to their life of suffering. The context demands that these words apply to James and John being in Christ from before the foundation of the world.
But who then would sit on Christ’s right hand and on His left hand in glory?
Every believer, every saint, everyone whom the Father has chosen, is spiritually already seated with Him on His right hand and on His left, according to what we have read in Ephesians 2:6. And after He has raptured us up on the Last Day and has taken us into the glorious new creation, we will also physically be on His right hand and on His left.
What a glorious salvation God has in store for us!
By Alfred J. Chompff