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Matthew 20:20-28 by Robert Dean
What in the world is the baptism of the cup? If you have only one idea of baptism, listen to this lesson to learn that there are eight different kinds of baptism in the Bible, three of which involve water, and five are dry. See that the cup of baptism refers to what is in the cup. Find out that when Jesus referred to the drinking of His cup, He is talking about His suffering on the Cross. Since none of us will die on a cross, understand that it refers to the unjust suffering that is part of the spiritual life of all believers. We need to ask ourselves how we handle unjust suffering.
Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:53 mins 34 secs

The Baptism of the Cup
Matthew 20:20–28
Matthew Lesson #115
April 3, 2016

Opening Prayer

“Father, as we come together this morning to study Your Word, we realize that it is through Your Word that You sanctify us. Sanctification is the process of our spiritual growth. As we are mature from faith to faith, as we are brought into conformity with the image of Your Son, this is done through the teaching of Your Word, assimilating it into our soul through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, and then living it out through application.

Father, we pray that as we study today that You will enlighten our souls to the truth of Your Word that we might be edified, strengthened, encouraged, and that we might be able to live a life that honors and glorifies You. And we pray this is Christ’s name. Amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 20:20–28. Today we’re going to focus on this important doctrine called the Doctrine of the Baptism of the Cup.

But let me begin with a little bit of review. We’ve had a couple of weeks off because last week was Resurrection Day, so let me remind you of the context.

It’s so important when we look at Scripture to make sure we understand the context, and as I’ve said so many times, the context is not just the immediate literary context of the surrounding of verses, but also broadening that out to where we understand how it fits within the subsection of a book or an epistle, and then the section, and then the epistle or the Gospel or the Book itself, and then how that fits within the structure of Scripture.

Often times what we’ve discovered throughout church history that passages that seem to teach one thing, when we explore the context a little more, we realize that it really isn’t talking about what we think it’s talking about.

This we have discovered to be true in a number of verses and passages, as we’ve gone through this section of Matthew, which actually began back in Matthew 18.

So we need to just step back a minute and see that structure, because it’s important to understand what is going on here, as I pointed out in the last several lessons, because we’re coming to the end of this structure.

These are the book ends. And the book ends help us to understand that everything between the beginning of this section and the end of this section relates to the themes that are set forth in these book ends.

That has to do with our position, our status, our roles and responsibilities in the future kingdom. We see this brought out through the confusion and the error and the arrogance of the disciples who just haven’t quite figured out what the issues of the spiritual life actually are.

In Matthew 18:1 we see them raise a question, raise this issue that comes out of a context where Jesus has taken three of the disciples, seemingly a position of privilege and honor, to go with Him up onto the Mount of Transfiguration where they saw Him in His glory, and also saw Moses and Elijah.

When they came down, the disciples, if you remember, were trying to cast a demon out, and they lacked faith. And that’s what Jesus confronts them with. Obviously, it’s becoming apparent to them that there’s some sort of distinction that’s taking place within them, and they begin to argue amongst themselves about who’s going to be the greatest in the kingdom.

So they come to Jesus with this question in Matthew 18:1, and they say, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

The reason I want to emphasize this, aside from the question itself, is that they bring in this issue of “the kingdom of heaven.”

We’ve studied this in our series on the Gospel of Matthew—that from the very first time this term is used, which is by John the Baptist (who is presenting the offer of the kingdom to Israel—“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”), there is no redefinition of that term “kingdom.”

The New Testament doesn’t start off and say, “Okay, we’ve got a new idea here, ‘the kingdom.’ ” John presents the kingdom as prophesied, anticipated, and expected from the Old Testament passages—that this would be a literal, geophysical kingdom that would be centered in Jerusalem with a literal, physical king, a descendant of David who would be ruling on the throne of David in Jerusalem. This is going to be the Messiah, the Messianic King that was anticipated and prophesied in the Old Testament.

When John the Baptist’s ministry faded as Jesus comes to the forefront, Jesus has the same message. He doesn’t change the terms. He says, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

And then when He sent His disciples out, He sent them only to the house of Judah and the house of Israel, and He said “this is the message”, Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

At no point is there a redefinition of the concept of “kingdom.”

Now that’s important to understand because within some areas of Christianity, some denominations, those who do not hold to a consistent, literal interpretation of Scripture, the idea of kingdom is transformed from a literal, physical, Jewish kingdom, to a kingdom that is spiritual.

You find this among many denominations: from Roman Catholic theology, to Lutheran theology, to Calvinists, Presbyterian theology that hold to what is called “Amillennialism.”

The “A” prefix means no. It’s the equivalent to the English “un.” It comes out of Greek, and then some brilliant man, sometime in the Middle Ages, joined that with a Latin word.

A Greek prefix with a Latin word. Who knew? And the Latin word is from the word “milli” meaning a thousand. And so it was “no millennium,” no literal thousand-year reign of Christ.

So this is a rejection of a historic doctrine that was believed in the early church called “chiliasm,” from the Greek word for a thousand, where they believed, based on Revelation 20 and a number of other passages, that there was a literal, physical kingdom on the earth that would last for 1,000 years and would be ruled by Jesus Christ.

But due to the advent of a non-literal, spiritualized allegorical interpretation from the end of the second century on, many passages of Scripture became de-literalized and became allegorized so that now we live in a form of the kingdom—we live in a spiritual kingdom. And this is simultaneous with the present Church Age.

In Amillennialism, the end of this Church Age is when Jesus comes back and that’s the end of history.

But you also have Pre-millennialism. Pre-millennialism believes in a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth that will come at some time in the future and will be preceded (that’s why it’s called PRE-millennialism), by the literal return of Jesus to the earth, which we refer to as the Second Coming, or the Second Advent.

He returns to the earth to establish this kingdom on the earth that Israel rejected at His First Coming, so that that kingdom was postponed.

Just to confuse everybody, there are those in evangelicalism today that teach something called the “already–not yet” view of the kingdom, that it’s already here but not yet. And that is just dialethism that comes out of a modernist human viewpoint perspective on Scripture. It’s totally postponed, and there’s no change.

Now the reason I bring this up is that the question they’re asking in Matthew 18:1 (who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?), shows the disciples clearly understood the concept of the kingdom—that it is a future, literal, geopolitical kingdom on the earth ruled by the Messiah.

Jesus does not correct their understanding of the kingdom. He doesn’t say, “Your thinking about this is all wrong.” He doesn’t correct it here, and neither will He correct it when James and John and their mother come to Him in Matthew 20:20 and requests that her two sons sit on the right and the left hand of Jesus when He comes in His kingdom. He doesn’t correct their understanding of the kingdom then either.

What He does in both places is correct their understanding of what it means to be great, what it means to have status in the kingdom. He’s going to focus them on the fact that they are to be servants and not to be concerned about status. They are to be like little children.

In the ancient world, little children had no status whatsoever. They were better not seen and not heard and nobody paid attention to them. That’s the mentality that Jesus is saying should characterize disciples.

So it’s that theme of true humility and being a servant to one another, not seeking any kind of personal glorification or status, that runs through this whole section. And it will come to a conclusion in this passage we are studying.

Now for those of you who are visitors, we’ve been studying this for three or four weeks, and I’ve been circling it because there are a lot of important things that are taught here. So we’ve gone around it, and now we’re centering on the core teaching that is here.

The lead-in is found in verses 17–19, focusing on what Jesus was going to do when He went to the Cross, identifying Him as the Son of Man. And that brackets this section with the last two verses, which again return to the focus of what Jesus will do on the Cross and again refers to Him as the Son of Man.

Both of those are bringing our attention to the fact that what Jesus is doing as the greater Son of David, as the promised Messiah, is not to come to seek self-glorification. But rather He is coming to serve through one of the most horrid deaths ever conceived in the history of mankind.

Crucifixion was a horrible death of unimaginable torture and suffering that was devised in the ancient world. It originally began by just hanging somebody, tying up their arms and hanging them from a single post. It would dislocate the shoulders, and eventually they would suffocate to death, die of a combination of several things: suffocation, as well as dehydration, as well as a lack of any kind of nourishment. All of that would just stretch out for two or three days.

By the time the Romans came along, they perfected it with a crossbeam called a “patibulum,” and they would put that on top of the center post.

In the case of Jesus, they nailed Him to the cross after a severe beating that would have left Him dehydrated and so weakened that He could probably barely walk.

He was so flayed by the Roman flagrum that it would have torn the flesh off His back, exposing His organs. Now this indicates that He must have been a physically powerful human being to have continued to withstand all of what He went through.

Then He is hung on a cross. He goes through that in order to serve us. That’s the focal point here—understanding that He’s not doing this for personal glorification, which you would expect from a king, but He is doing this in order to serve His creatures and to provide salvation for them.

That frames this little episode, and it really helps when you understand that, to drive home the point of what Jesus is teaching them in this situation.

Slide 3

What we have seen from the beginning of Matthew 19 is that Jesus has left Galilee, and He has traveled to the south as indicated by the blue line here. He’s traveled to the south, come down through Perea, and He is probably near the Jordan River when this takes place.

He’s traveling with not only the disciples, but we see that at least the mother of the sons of Zebedee is there, and probably others are traveling with them. It’s not an enormous crowd, but it is certainly more than a dozen or two dozen people.

Slide 4

The question that comes up that is a focal point of this whole section, is who is the greatest in the kingdom? They are asking, well, who will sit in the seats of highest honor?

See, what they’re doing is like many of us: they approach the teaching of Scripture from the background of their own human viewpoint thinking, the thinking of their culture, the thinking that’s been bred into them through the influence of their peers, the influence of the leaders in their country—rather than thinking in terms of what God has revealed.

There’s always a conflict for the believer between the thinking that is consistent with the world system, the thinking that is consistent with the sin nature, and the thinking that God expects us to have that imitates and mirrors His kind of thinking.

The role of spiritual growth is to replace the thinking of the world that’s in our souls with the thinking of God. That’s Romans 12:2: we are not to be conformed to the world, to the thinking of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That takes place through the study of God’s Word.

It doesn’t just happen on Sunday mornings. We live in a world that inculcates us with human viewpoint paganism day in and day out, and gets worse and worse and worse. You hear it at your work, you hear it from your neighbors, you hear it in school, you hear it from your peers, but what we see here is that we must be transformed if we are going to be true disciples.

Being a disciple isn’t the same as being saved. There’s only one condition for being saved, and that’s “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”, trusting that He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins.

But once we are a new creature in Christ, once we are justified, and once we are regenerated, then we have to grow. Discipleship is related to spiritual growth and spiritual advance. There are many conditions that Jesus expresses for discipleship.

But people get confused on these things, and they think that disciples are the same as being saved, and then all of a sudden you end up getting a confused gospel where you’re saved by doing certain things. No!

You’re saved by faith alone, by trusting in Christ alone. But we grow through the study, the intake, the assimilation of God’s Word, and then applying it under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

So they are coming to this with this human viewpoint concept of leadership, probably not much different than the human viewpoint concept of leadership that is dominant in our culture. I’m not even sure what kind of viewpoint they have on leadership up in Washington, D.C., but I don’t think it’s anything close to what we have in the Scripture. Many of them are there for their own power, their own prestige, and accumulating whatever wealth they can get at the benefit of the tax payer.

But what we have in Scripture as the role of a leader is that he is to be a servant. He is to be focused upon the needs of those he is leading and is to lead by virtue of humility, not in a manner that is self-serving.

But the disciples haven’t quite caught that yet, and they’re still thinking in terms of human viewpoint ideas of leadership, so they want to know who’s going to be great in the kingdom.

Now when Jesus comes to the end of this section, He talks about the essence of leadership. In verse 27 He says, “Whoever desires to be first among you”—that is directly addressing this issue of who is going to be the greatest or who’s going to have the position of honor, who’s going to be greatest of you—“shall be your slave.”

Then He says, “just as the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The first word used in verse 27 is “slave,” DOULOS, and the second word translated “served” is the verb DIAKONEO. The noun is related to the word “deacon,” someone who is a servant.

Now this, as I’ve pointed out two weeks ago, is directly related to the mission of Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity Who took on humanity and entered into human history.

Slide 5

Philippians 2:7 says that He “emptied Himself by taking on the form of a bond-servant.”

That’s the word DOULOS here on the right side. That’s the same word that we have here in verse 27, to be a slave. So this is what Jesus does.

Slide 6

Because Jesus is willing to “humble Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even”—the most humiliating death ever— “the death of a cross,” this is why He will be exalted among every name in Heaven and on earth and receive ultimate glorification. That is the result of Him being the perfect Servant and perfectly obedient to the Father demonstrating that humility.

Slide 7

So what we see in Matthew 20:20 is another episode not unlike what we saw in Matthew 18. But now James and John have enlisted their mother in order to advance their cause with Jesus, that disciples all through this section have continued to argue amongst themselves as to who’s going to be greatest.

So James and John come along, and we read in verse 20, “The mother of Zebedee’s sons”—and we know from comparing other Scriptures that this is Salome. She is also related to Mary—she is Mary’s aunt, so that means James and John are first cousins. So this is a family affair among the disciples, and they think because they’re closely related to Jesus that they should be on each side of the throne. They’ve encouraged their mother to do this.

Now there are a couple of things we ought to observe when we look at this: there are some distinctions between the account in Matthew and the account in Mark.

There’s no parallel account in either Luke or John. We just have these two parallel accounts in Matthew and Mark, which is why I read the Mark passage at the beginning of our worship service. I’ve tried to distinguish some of the differences here by highlighting those phrases in the blue.

Mark, which is at the bottom of the screen, does not say anything about mom being along on the trip. He just focuses on the two brothers, James and John. But that doesn’t mean there’s a conflict here. Mark is probably being much more efficient in His story-telling. He’s not giving out extraneous details. It doesn’t mean she wasn’t there—it’s just that that’s not his focus.

Whereas, Matthew includes a little more evidence. He tells us that the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to ask the question, but notice they are with her. So mom and the two boys come up, and mom begins with the question, and then Jesus understood that she’s really the proxy for the two boys.

He looks at them and says, probably looks at them like, “And you?” And then they would have re-phrased the question because they use a little bit different terminology. So He gets a question from mom, then He gets the same question from the two boys, but there’s not a conflict here. It’s just the way the two authors express the episode.

In Mark we’re told that James and John come up, and when Jesus looks at them, and they rephrase the question, they say, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” Now that seems a little arrogant, doesn’t it?

Apparently the tension among the disciples about who’s going to be great has really increased by this point, and now they’re going to do whatever they think to end the discussion, end the situation.

They want Him to do whatever they ask, and He says, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And they say, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left in Your glory.”

Now when mom asked the question, she said, “in Your kingdom.”

So we see here by the parallel, that “glory” is just another way to refer to kingdom, talking about the glorious kingdom of the Messiah. It would be referred to both ways. They’re asking the same question.

They want the two positions of honor. The key position of honor is on the right. Now there’s something in Scripture that’s significant. When Jesus separates the sheep and the goats, He has the goats on the left and the sheep on the right.

There always seems to be this choice in Scripture, that those who are on the correct side of the issue are on the right; and those who are on the wrong side of the issue are on the left.

Now you can apply that politically or any way you wish, but there seems to be a Scriptural basis for this sort of distinction. So when there are going to be two positions of honor, one would be on the right, and the other on the left. So Jesus would be flanked by James and John.

Slide 8

But Jesus clearly understood that mom was put up to this by the two boys because when He answers, He answers and addresses the two boys. So I’ve paraphrased this by adding in the brackets the fact that He is using a second person plural to express His answer.

When Jesus answered and said in Matthew 20:22, He said, “Y’all do not know what y’all ask.” He’s clearly talking to the two.

What we learn from the account in both Matthew and Mark is that they have come on their own because in verse 24 we read, “And when the ten heard it.”

So they’ve gone off somewhere—there’s just Jesus and Salome and the two boys, and they’re apart from the disciples. Later the other disciples will hear about it, and they’re going to get a bit upset that there’s this end run that’s been attempted by James and John.

Jesus answered—and with these quotes and dialog going on I tried to clarify that a little bit by using italics—Jesus answered and said, “Y’all do not know what y’all ask.”

Then He asked the question, “Are you able to drink the cup that I’m about to drink and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They said to Him, “We are able.”

The reason I put the phrase in brackets and in purple is because it’s not in all of our texts for Matthew. In fact, some of you, if you’re using an NIV, an ESV, an NASB, or another modern translation, you won’t have this in your text.

It may be in the margin, some of them may put it there and put it in brackets, and there will be a comment in the margins saying “These are not in the oldest”—and then they make a value judgment—“and best manuscripts.” Well, that’s highly debated.

There are some manuscripts, the oldest manuscripts (basically boils down to four), that come out of Egypt—found in that drier climate. It stands to reason in the drier climate of Egypt that certain documents would survive longer than they would in the Middle Eastern or even in the northern Mediterranean area.

But there’s a discrepancy in how people handle these differences. One view is called the Majority Text because the vast majority of manuscripts reflect that particular reading, and that’s true in this case. The Majority Text has this in Matthew. And I think that’s a correct reading.

Slide 9

But even if it isn’t in Matthew, it was in Mark. Here’s a parallel for you to look at. You will see that the phrases I’ve highlighted in purple there on the left are definitely stated there in the Mark 10:38–39 passage, and where He talks about being baptized with the same baptism. So there’s no textual variance in the Mark passage.

When we get to this word “baptism,” there’s often a lot of misunderstanding about baptism. The word that usually comes to people’s minds when they hear baptism is the word “water.”

But water is not always present when you have baptisms in Scripture. In fact, we have to understand the meaning, the literal meaning of the word BAPTIZO, as well as its significance.

Slide 10

The word BAPTIZO in the Greek means literally to dip something into something, to plunge it into something, to immerse it into something; therefore, in the debate that has gone on through church history, sprinkling vs. immersion, the immersionists are correct.

What happened in the early church was as they got away from a literal interpretation and due to various other factors, they opted for sprinkling rather than immersion. Then after the early 4th century when Constantine legitimized Christianity in the Roman Empire and it became the state religion, you had the identification of the state with Christianity up until you have the Protestant Reformation. Entry into the state as a citizen was identified with entering into the church as a member of the church, which was through infant baptism.

So you have this confusion where politics and religion come together, where entering into the state was the same as entering into the church. So if somebody came along and said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you can’t do baptism as infants. Baptism has nothing with citizenry. Baptism has to do with whether or not you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for your sins.”

These became known as Anabaptists. That word “ana” means second baptism because most of the people had already been baptized as infants.

In the Protestant Reformation, the Anabaptists came along and said two things:

  1. You’ve got to have separation of church and state, and
  2. There has to be believer’s baptism, baptism by immersion. That’s what makes a Baptist a Baptist.

I used to love to have fun with my Baptist pastor and Baptists I knew where I did my internship when I was in Seminary at a Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. I used to have fun and ask the question, “What makes a Baptist a Baptist?”

You’d get all kinds of answers, and a lot of them, if they were a little more knowledgeable, they’d say, “Well, Baptists are not a creedal people.” Which means we don’t have a doctrinal statement, so anything goes. But there were others who were even more knowledgeable and always teased the pastor about this. He had his doctorate and was teaching at Southwestern Baptist, and he never answered the question right.

I have an unsaved Jewish urologist friend, and we were walking through a Baptist Church in Mystic, CT, one day, and I said, “You know what makes a Baptist a Baptist?”

He said, “Yea, they believe in separation of church and state and baptism by immersion.”

Almost 100% of the Baptists I asked that of can’t get it right, and here’s an unsaved Jew who gets it right. But that’s it.

Scripturally, baptism is by immersion, but it’s not just the act of baptism that’s significant, but what it signifies. It’s an action that signifies identification with someone or something; an action, a person, an object or new status in life. That’s its significance.

In water baptism it is teaching a spiritual truth of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection at the instant of our faith alone in Christ alone.

Now that’s a difficult doctrine for people to understand—positional truth and our identification with Christ. So the Lord has given us this very practical visual aid to teach that. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t ever get the teaching with the visual aid. But that’s the significance, it’s identification.

So believer’s baptism has to do with our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Slide 11

We have eight different baptisms in the New Testament.

 The first three are ritual baptisms:

  1. The baptism of Jesus.

Often you’ll hear people say, “We want to follow Jesus in baptism.” No one can do that. Jesus’ baptism was a unique baptism that entered Him into, or inaugurated, His public ministry. It was His public anointing as prophet and priest in terms of His ministry.

He was not following John’s baptism. John’s baptism was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” but Jesus wasn’t repenting of anything. So Jesus’ baptism wasn’t John’s baptism, even though John performed the baptism.

  1. The baptism of John the Baptist.

This was to identify the Jews of that day with his message presenting the kingdom to Israel. This also involved water.

  1. The third wet baptism and ritual baptism is believer’s baptism, which I’ve already described, which was baptism by immersion based upon a person’s faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Slide 12

There are five dry baptisms. They are called “real baptism” as opposed to a ritual baptism.

  1. There’s the baptism of Noah in 1 Peter 3:20–21, where those who were on the ark were identified with Noah’s faith. They survived in a state of dryness. The people not identified are the ones who got wet.
  2. Then we have the baptism of Moses. Water was also involved there. In 1 Corinthians 10:2, those who are identified with Moses went through the Red Sea, but they were dry. The ones who were not identified with Moses were Pharaoh’s army. They’re the ones that got wet.
  3. Then we have the baptism of fire, which was mentioned by John the Baptist, that One would come after him who would baptize by means of fire and by means of the Holy Spirit, and the fire refers to judgment and that will come at the Second Coming.
  4. Then there’s the baptism that’s mentioned in this passage, which we need to clarify, called the baptism of the cup. Sometimes it’s called the baptism of the cross, which is terminology I’ve used in the past, but having gone through this passage, I realize that is an erroneous terminology because this baptism is not unique to Jesus, and we’ll see this in just a minute.
  5. And then the fifth is the baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit, which is the distinguishing character of the Church Age. It began on the Day of Pentecost, and there will no baptism by the Holy Spirit once the church is taken to be with the Lord at the Rapture.

The concept that we have here in the cup is not the cup itself, but what is in the cup. Jesus isn’t talking about the fact that He’s going to be immersed in the cup or sprinkled in the cup or anything like that. It’s focusing on the content of the cup.

The cup as a metaphor is used many times in the Old Testament. It’s also used in the Book of Revelation, and most commonly it is used to refer to judgment, that which is poured out of the cup is God’s judgment on either personal individual discipline or divine judgment on nations and on Israel.

But it’s also used to refer to blessing. We have references to the cup of blessing. So the cup can be either a positive in terms of blessing or negative in terms of judgment.

We have to look at the context to see what it’s talking about. Jesus used it several times along with this passage to talk about what was going to take place at the Cross.

Slide 13

In John 18:11 He’s at the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter has just chopped the ear off of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus put the ear back on and healed it, and then he told Peter to put away his sword.

Then He said, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

Now what happens is a lot of us, because we know it’s going to happen, that He’s going to go to the Cross, we’ve said what’s in the cup is the Cross. But we have a problem there because of what’s said here. What it’s talking about in the cup is it’s the cup of suffering in a more generic sense, not as precise as the Cross.

Slide 14

In Matthew 26:39 He prays, “Father, let this cup pass from Me.”

In Matthew 26:42 He prays to the Father, “If this cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it”—which means to experience the judgment, the suffering.

In Mark 14:36 He prays to the Father, “Take this cup away from Me.”

In Luke 22:42, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me.”

So let’s look at this passage.

Slide 8

In Matthew 20:22, 23 Jesus says, “Y’all do not know what y’all are asking.” You have no clue. You think you do, but you don’t.

Remember, they never accepted or understood or have been able to process His statements like the one He just made in verses 18–19, that He is going to be betrayed by the chief priests and the scribes, that He’ll be condemned to death, delivered to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify, and that He’ll rise on the third day. They never were able to process that.

So He’s telling them that they just don’t understand it. The Greek verb that’s used for “know” here is OIDA, which indicates a more deep internal knowledge. He says, “You just don’t get it.”

He says, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?”

That’s just imagery for participating in the contents of the cup, where it becomes a part of Him, much like in the Lord’s Table; when we drink the cup, drinking is taking something in, making it a part of us. It’s a picture of trusting Christ as Savior.

But then He says, “Are you able to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

See, what He’s indicating by that question is that they can be baptized with the same baptism that He’s baptized with. So the baptism by the cup is not as narrow as it’s often taught as the Cross.

They’re not going to the Cross. Ten of the eleven are going to die for the gospel, but they won’t all die by crucifixion. Some will have their heads cut off, some will be killed in other ways, but John will survive. So not all of the disciples are going to die. Therefore baptism with the cup can’t be as narrow as the Cross because they’re going to be baptized with it also.

That’s what He says in verse 23, “You will indeed drink My cup.” You’re going to drink the same cup that I drink. So if “drinking the same cup” that Jesus drinks, if the cup is the Cross, then they’re not going to be doing that. So it can’t be that narrow.

Then He says, “You will be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.”

That means we all as believers can be baptized with the cup, if we understand the cup correctly. The question is the same question for them, “Are you able to be baptized with the baptism Jesus was baptized with?”

What does that describe? That describes the suffering, unjust suffering, undeserved suffering that may be part of our spiritual life.

So let me show how Peter learned this lesson.

Slide 15

The conclusion that we see from Matthew is since Matthew and Mark both clearly state that Jesus said the disciples would both drink the same cup and be baptized by the same baptism, the imagery cannot be narrowed to the Cross alone, because only Jesus goes to the Cross like that.

Slide 16

To be baptized with the cup and to drink the cup meant that, like Jesus, the disciples will also encounter unjust and undeserved suffering because of their faith in Christ. Are we willing to walk through that?

Now turn with me to 1 Peter. Those of you who have been coming to Bible class or listening online to 1 Peter 1 clearly know that Peter is writing to a group of Messianic Jews who are going through undeserved suffering. They are facing that at every turn, and that Peter is writing this to tell them how to handle it, how to face it on divine resources, and to handle that unjust suffering.

Those principles apply down through the ages—that the only way we can handle the sufferings, the vicissitudes, the challenges of life, and especially those that come because we are believers, can only be done in the power of God the Holy Spirit and on the basis of God’s Word together.

So let’s see how the sufferings of Christ are used as the pattern for this in 1 Peter.

Slide 17

In 1 Peter 1:11, Peter says, referring to the Old Testament prophets, that they were “searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”

Jesus is teaching that if you really want to have glory in the kingdom, then you have to be willing to drink from the same cup He drinks from and be baptized with the same baptism. You have to be willing to suffer with Christ, and that’s what Paul says in Romans 8, that this also leads to being joint heirs of Christ—we’ll look at this next week.

Slide 18

In 1 Peter 2:19, turn over one page in most of your Bibles to 1 Peter 2:19, and there we see this same pattern that is to characterize the believer. There Peter is talking about suffering. I want to read the lead-in into this, which is verses 19 and 20, before we look at the specifics of the example.

He begins by saying, “This is commendable”—that is suffering unjustly—“this is commendable because of conscience towards God”—that is because you are doing that which is righteous before God—“conscience towards God one endures grief, suffering, wrongfully.” Notice the broad category here. It’s not the Cross. It’s the broad category of unjust, undeserved suffering.

He then says in verse 20, “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, that is commendable before God.”

What’s interesting is that the word that’s translated “commendable” in the NKJV is the word “grace.” This is what it means to be grace oriented, to suffer patiently, to endure unjust suffering patiently.

Slide 19

He then goes on to say, “For to this you were called”—as every believer—“to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.”

Notice the parallel is unjust suffering—not the specific kind of suffering on the Cross. Christ suffered for us leaving us an example. He’s the pattern. He’s the one who was willing to leave Heaven to enter into human history, to take on humanity, and the role of a DOULOS, a servant, a slave in order to humble Himself by obedience in going to the Cross.

Peter goes on to say it was undeserved. He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”—this is a quotation from Isaiah 53.

“Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

The normal response that people have is that when they are reviled, they snap back, they attack, they use hand gestures or whatever to make their point known. When they suffer they threaten, they do all of these things, but that’s not what you do if you’re oriented to grace. If you have divine viewpoint, you don’t revile when you’re reviled, you don’t threaten when you suffer, but you commit yourself to God who will eventually make all things right.

The pattern is Jesus, verse 24, “who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.”

Slide 20

Turn over another page to 1 Peter 3:13, and we have Christ being used in the same pattern. It says, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” Again this is dealing with unjust suffering.

Peter says, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.” So that’s the context.

Slide 21

Then the illustration comes in verses 16 and 17:

“Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers”—when they blame Christians for all the problems, and when they’re hostile, when they want to throw us in jail, all the persecution that might come—“those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

“For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

Slide 22

Then we have this example (1 Peter 3:18):

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”

Christ is the example of suffering. That’s the point of taking the cup, drinking that cup, and being baptized with the baptism He’s baptized with.

Slide 23

1 Peter 4:1 brings it up again, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same thinking”—the same thoughts—“for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

Slide 24

Skipping down to verse 12, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange things happened to you;”

“but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

We’ll come back to this next time when I talk about rewards and judgment, because those who suffer with Christ are promised that they will be joint heirs with Christ, and that’s distinct from being an heir of God, and we’ll look at this next time.

The point here that Jesus is making is that for there to be any honor or glory in the kingdom, we have to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

Slide 25

We have a wonderful promise that most people don’t ever memorize. In 2 Timothy 3:12, this is one of those positive things you never hear in a gospel presentation. “Yes,” Paul says, “and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy? That’s why this isn’t a church of 3,000 or 4,000 people, because we teach the truth, and the truth is not always a warm, fuzzy.

Now back to Matthew 20. Jesus finishes this up, or the situation finishes up. When the ten hear about this, they’re greatly displeased with the two brothers, verse 24, and Jesus called them to Himself and He gave them a little lesson in leadership.

He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them”—that’s human viewpoint leadership—“and those who are great exercise authority over them.”

“Yet”—contrast—“it shall not be so among you”—this is the teaching point—“whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant”—DIAKONOS. That’s the point of Christian leadership.

Parents, you exercise that leadership by being servants to your kids because you need to teach them how to live a godly life, and that takes time, it takes energy, it takes creativity, and often that runs counter to spending your time pursuing your own career. It is putting your kids first over your own ambitions and your own career.

It affects each one of us individually, being leaders in the local church, being leaders in whatever arena we’re in. It focuses on not seeking status or being somebody, but on being a servant first and foremost of the Lord and carrying out the mission that He has given us to make disciples.

Next time I want to come back and wrap this up and put this within the context of what the Scripture teaches about rewards and judgments because this is what this whole passage is a part of, that greater doctrine of rewards and judgments.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we’re thankful for this opportunity to come together to study Your Word, to be reminded that as believers in Jesus Christ, we are to think differently, we are to live differently. We are not to imitate the world, we’re not to be pressed into the mold of the world, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are to follow the pattern of leadership exhibited by the greatest Leader in all of human history, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom, a payment for many.

Father, we pray that if there’s anyone here this morning that has never trusted in Christ as Savior, is unsure of their eternal destiny and uncertain of their salvation, that this would be the opportunity for them to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. It’s a free gift. We do nothing to earn it or deserve it. We simply trust that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. We believe what the Bible says that He is the One who died for our sins, was buried, and rose the third day, that He is our Savior. The instant we believe in Him, we are given His righteousness, we are declared just, we are given new life in Him, we are regenerate, we have eternal life.

Father, for those of us who are saved, the challenge is to grow and mature, to be disciples, to follow Jesus. Not all will do this. Not all have the spiritual courage. Some just say, “Okay, I’ll do it a little bit,” then as we grow and mature, we take the challenge, and we grow more, and we grow more. Real life comes from following the Lord Jesus Christ. And Father, we pray that we might all have the strength, the courage to follow the Lord. We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”