but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.." Lu 3:16
It speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit His sanctifying and power enduing work upon the Church. Oh, we cry to be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit and fire! But as we look closer at this passage and the reality of fire in the early Church we see a fire that is different than what we might have had in mind.
We think of it as being fiery, being passionate, being on fire with love and zeal for God. This is a right and true application of this scripture, but perhaps not the original, central meaning that John the Baptist prophesied.
The clue is in the next section of scripture (v 21), where Jesus who would baptize his Church first submits to baptism in water and the Holy Spirit, in a physical manifestation as a dove, descends on Him. What a beautiful experience, what a glorious way to be launched into ministry, with the Father's voice also declaring His affirmation.
Baptism of Fire
But then Jesus is baptized (by full immersion) into fire.
It's a fire of suffering, a full immersion into suffering through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
And he ate nothing during those days." Lu 3:1,2a
Think about this....
Forty days with only water, his body on the edge of starvation, camping, alone under the blazing Judean sun, with no comforts for his body or soul other than the presence of God. This is FIRE. Then on top of this, the devil takes this opportunity of Christ's weakened state to assault him with every imaginable temptation.
This is a full baptism -- everything immersed -- in fire.
But Jesus utterly overcame and walked out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit. Whoa!
The Early Church
The believers in the book of Acts and in the first few centuries knew both the baptism of the Spirit with the sanctification and the enduement of power, as well as the fire of suffering. They were harshly persecuted, imprisoned, and martyred. But they understood that they were signing up to be baptized into Christ and their lives would be an echo of his.
But now, we live in a different time, where persecution, that fire that the early Church lived in, rarely touches us in the western world. There is of course deep suffering in the Church from other sources, but most of us are pretty comfortable, and don't expect suffering when we pray for fire.
Yet there is an invitation into this baptism.
A Christ-like Global Fast
I believe the Church is entering into a season of fire, a season of supernatural, Spirit-led, grace-filled massive activation of fasting for the harvest, birthed all over the globe
-- that will be an authentic echo of the great, fiery, fast of Jesus.
Truly it's time for the the Church to voluntarily say "yes" to all that it means to be baptized into Christ, and for the Lamb who was slain to receive the reward of His suffering.