“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Reference: Matthew 20:22-23 )
If a historic Anabaptist were asked if he/she could drink the cup that Christ drank what do you think they would say? When the historic Anabaptist first started proclaiming their new faith, I do not think they expected that they would be asked to “drink” such a cup. But by the time the movement passed its critical point, many had.
I noted yesterday that the baptism of blood was Christ’s atoning action, but for the historic Anabaptists that baptism was also suffering as Christ was made to suffer, and not back away from it or recant their faith. Modern Anabaptists/Mennonites do not expect or anticipate to suffer like that, and most don’t. But in the history of the Anabaptists from the 1400’s on there has been suffering other than that of the first Anabaptists. And even in our modern times some notable Anabaptists/Mennonites have suffered up to and including death. Not tortured or persecuted (although have been those exceptional cases) but it has happened that some have been killed as a result of their faith stance. We, meaning modern Anabaptists/Mennonites, do not seek that type of baptism, but if it comes we accept it as remaining faithful to our beliefs and yielding ourselves to God’s cost of discipleship.
Do we believe that God wants our deaths? No. But we do believe there is a cost of discipleship. Leonard Schiemer wrote from prison in 1527 “The third baptism is that of blood. Of this baptism the Lord says in Matt. 20:22; Luke 12:50: Do you wish to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? I must yet be baptized with another baptism, and how I am in fear until it is accomplished.
That baptism is a test for the Christian. An untried Christian is as unsmelted iron ore. O if I had someone who would lift me out of this baptism, that person would be my dear companion.”
May you beloved be firm in your faith, accepting the baptism of God and the Spirit that are on your Christian journey. Selah!