I can’t tell you all the things that Matthew writes. Needless to say, I wish I had a page for each segment … but over the four gospels I guess I will cover quite a bit! Please go and read the bits that I miss out because they are great too, I just don’t have the room for them all. For this book I have aimed to not pick my favourite sections so there might be some more obscure parts.
John is about to baptise Jesus. He states, ‘There is one coming, who is more powerful, he will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ But what is he talking about? He is describing what an encounter with GOD and an experience of the Holy Spirit (GOD on earth with us now) is like …
When I think of fire, I am reminded of the refiner’s fire. It heats precious metal to a high temperature so that the impurities are burned away. I think that Holy Spirit encounters can feel quite a bit like that! The dross and rubbish burns up in His presence. Sometimes it is an uncomfortable thing, the things that have shaped my thoughts and actions are exposed as false and cannot survive a fire. Then there is a choice to be made, do I let Him burn it up or do I live with it for longer. Of course, it is up to you to expose yourself to the fire, GOD never forces Himself on you but invites you to meet with Him. There are other times, however, when you come out the other side of an encounter and you are changed forever without there seeming to be a process.
Baptism is a one off event and is often described as symbolic, which it is. We go down under the water, representing our old life dying and are raised up out the water showing that we have put our trust in Jesus and new life. But it is more than that, baptism is also prophetic. Our old life is dead and buried but we will be raised to eternal life just as Jesus was. It is a now and not yet thing! There is a continuation for us to remind our dead self to stay dead and to live the eternal life that we have gained … therefore the bit in Ephesians 5:18 makes sense when it says, keep on [keeping on] being filled. To keep being filled with the Holy Spirit is about relationship for a lifetime. Being with Him will transform us in the encounter, burning away the rubbish as we look to Him, but it is the power of relationship with Him that enables us to step into that transformation. Relationship is friendship and comfort.
So when I come to this verse I think about not just the one off baptism (like in Acts 2) but the constant and close relationship with the Holy Spirit where I keep on being filled. This relationship is a drawing close, it is an exposing of all the stuff and allowing the refiners fire to burn up what doesn’t belong. It is not fearful of what will be revealed and it is intimate. A hug leans in and encompasses, it is full of contact and trust. It means stepping out of my self sufficiency and allowing Him to touch me.
What does baptise with Holy Spirit and fire look like and feel like for me? It is hugging an eternal GOD – Power, fire, relationship and comfort.
Have you leaned in to hug Him today?