Baptism of Wrath upon the Cross


H. A. Ironside

Baptism of Wrath upon the Cross,

which our Lord Jesus endured as our Substitute of which, in its fullest sense, Christian baptism speaks.

The prophetic psalms tell us, in no uncertain way, of this. Who can conceive the depth of such passages as the following:

"Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts; all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me"(Ps.42:7). In the preceding verse, touchingly and fittingly indeed, the Holy Sufferer exclaims, "I will remember Thee from the land of Jordan!" "This, truly, was the entering of the anti-typical ark into the floods of Jordan at the time of the harvest when it "overfloweth all its banks" (Josh.3:14-16). On the cross, the sinner's just desert was meted out to Him when "He bore our sins in His own body on the tree." Floods, not of water, then rolled o'er His spotless soul in those three awful hours of darkness in which the face of God was hidden from the Holy Sufferer; billows of judgment and wrath when God "made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor.5:21). He could well say, "I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me"(Ps.69:2). Solemn, too, it is to hear His cry in the 14th and 15th verses of the same psalm: "Deliver me out of the mire, and let Me not sink. Let Me be delivered from them that hate Me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the waterflood overflow Me, neither let the deep swallow Me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon Me." Here He has in view, not only the judgment of God righteously meted out to Him as the sinner's substitute, but also the cruel baptism of insult and hatred, which men whom He would fain have saved caused to roll over His devoted head. Another psalm, the 88th, has again more particularly in view the curse of the broken law, so that He can exclaim: "Thou hast laid Me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon Me, and Thou hast afflicted Me with all Thy waves" (vs.6,7). How the "Selah" at the close appeals to the believer! Oh, my soul, I pause" indeed, and "consider" with how great a price thou wast redeemed and from how great a death thou hast been saved!

The above quotations give us some slight idea of what Jesus meant when He said: "But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished" (Lk.12:50). In a limited sense could His disciples share this baptism with Him (Matt.20:23). That which came from man only, (but not from God) they too could go down beneath, as in the case of James (Acts 12:2) and of John (Rev.1:9) who said, though knowing not what was involved in it at the time, "We are able" (Matt.20:22).

This is the great and solemn truth which above everything else baptism pictures to us, as we shall see both Romans and Colossians witness. Could aught but immersion, a complete overwhelming, figure such a scene as that which we have glanced at in the above scriptures? And how unspeakably precious the privilege to be thus baptized unto His death!

We turn next to consider the place of