In Mark 10:38-39, Christ asked James and John to accept the baptism that he himself had accepted. ‘Baptism’ usually means the ceremony by which a person publicly joins the Christian church. However, on that occasion, Christ was using the word ‘baptism’ as a word-picture. He meant that Christians would suffer trouble, dangers and even death because of their relationship with him.
Even as a person enters the water during baptism, so a Christian suffers those troubles in this life. Paul explained in Romans 6:3-4 that, in the end, baptism is like a picture of death. However, the person then rises out of the water. That is like a picture that, after death, Christians will become alive again (Romans 6:5). Then trouble, pain and death will never affect them again (Revelation 21:4).
Paul and the first Christians accepted constant dangers because of their relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Their enemies were cruel; the Christians knew that they could die at any time. However, those Christians were not afraid of death because they trusted Christ. As Christ had become alive again after his death, so they too would live again. That future life, with Christ, would be much better than the present life where they suffered so much (Philippians 1:21-24).
Many Christians in Corinth cared too much about things that belong to this present life, for example, their feelings and their meals. Paul worried about them. Such attitudes would make them too weak to trust Christ firmly when troubles came.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.