D Other Metaphors

Jesus is recalled as using other metaphors speaking of suffering which he expected to endure — metaphors of cup, baptism, and fire.

Matt. 20.22-23

Mark 10.38-39

Luke 12.49-50

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him.

She said to him, 'Declare that these two sons of mine will sit. one at your right hand and one at vour left, in vour kingdom'. 22 But lesus said. 'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink

35 James and the sons of Zebedee. came forward to him and said to him, 'Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you'. 36 And he said to them. 'What do you want me to do for vou?' 37 And they said to him, 'Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at vour left, in vour alorv'. 38 But lesus said to them. 'You do not know what vou are asking. Are vou able to drink

49 I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am until it is completed!

the cup that I am about to drink?'

They said to him, 'We are able'. 23 He said to them. 'Mv cup vou will indeed hut to sit at mv rialit hand

the cup that 1

drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?' 39 Thev replied. 'We are able'. Then Jesus said to them. 'The cup that I drink vou will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at mv right hand

and at mv left.

this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has

or at mv left is not mine to but it is for those for whom it has

been prepared by mv Father'.

been prepared'.

Matthew may well have derived his version directly from Mark, though why in that case he should have omitted the 'baptism' saying (Mark 10.38b, 39b) is unclear. Luke 12.50 has a different form of the same saying and indicates that the saying was retold independently of the context in which it has been retained by Mark. Did Matthew then know a form of the story from which the baptism saying had been extracted for separate use? Either way. the double attestation of Mark and Luke indicates that Jesus was remembered as using the imagery of baptism to describe the suffering he expected to have to endure.197

In the Markan/Matthean context. the cup saying (Mark 10.38a/Matt. 20.22) also denotes expectation of suffering.198 What is striking is the prediction that James and John would have to drink from the same cup (Mark 20.23

— and endure the same baptism: Mark 10.39b). Such a prediction can hardly have been first articulated in the early years of It must go back to Jesus and have been retained within the Jesus tradition. despite lack of fulfilment thus far. because it was remembered as a prediction of Jesus and treasured as such.200

Here we should recall also that the cup imagery reappears in all forms of the Gethsemane tradition (Mark 14.36 pars.).201 Jesus in his great distress and anguish asks to be exempted from the suffering implied in the image: 'let this cup pass from me'. As already noted.202 the not at all flattering portrayal of Jesus in the garden is probably a fair representation of his state of mind. By then. Jesus must have been all too well aware of what likely lay ahead. and was recalled as blanching at the prospect.

More intriguing is the double fire/baptism saying in Luke 12.49-50. (1) It is highly enigmatic. To what did the early churches refer it? From what fulfilment could they have derived it? (2) The sayings are obviously parallel in form (Tire I came to cast . . . ; baptism I have to be baptized with . . .'). suggesting a Semitic structure and origin.203 (3) Thomas has an interesting parallel to Luke 12.49: 'Jesus said. 'I have cast fire upon the world. and see. I am guarding it until it is ablaze' (GTh 10). Both Luke and Thomas recall Jesus as talking about casting fire on the earth/world.

197. On baptism as a metaphor for suffering see below (n. 206 and § 17.5c).

198. The 'cup' to be drunk from was a familiar metaphor for suffering divine judgment (e.g., Pss. 11.6; 75.7-8; Isa. 51.17, 22; Jer. 25.15-17, 27-29; Ezek. 23.31-34; Hab. 2.16; Zech. 12.2; lQpHab 11.14-15; Pss. Sol. 8.14). Casey draws attention also to Mart. Isa. 5.13, and Targ. Neof. on Deut. 32.1: 'people (sons of men) who die and taste the cup of death'. See further Bayer. Jesus' Predictions 70-77.

199. James was martyred about 44 CE (Acts 12.2), but Irenaeus reports that John lived to the time of Trajan (98-117 CE; Adv. haer. 2.22.5; 3.3.4); the data are briefly reviewed in Davies and Allison. Matthew 3.90-92. including n. 39 on the much less reliable tradition that John was killed at the same time as James.

200. See also Bayer. Jesus' Predictions 59-61.

201. Although John has totally transformed the tradition of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. he has taken care to include reference to the cup of suffering: 'the cup which my Father has given me. shall I not drink it?' (John 18.11).

203. Burney. Poetry 63. 90; see also Black. Aramaic Approach 123. Characteristic Lukan style synechomai) demonstrates no more than performance variation (cf. Beasley-

Murray. Jesus and the Kingdom 248-49).

(4) More striking still are the indications in the Jesus tradition that Jesus was remembered as saying something else similar.

Matt. 10.34

Luke 12.51

GTh 16

Do not think that 1 came to cast

Do you consider that I have come to

Jesus said, Men perhaps think that I have come to cast

peace on the earth;

I came to cast not peace but a sword.

bring peace in the earth?

No, I tell you, but rather division!

peace upon the world, and they do not know that I have come to cast divisions upon the earth, fire, sword, war.

The gloomy saying is of a piece with other anticipations of eschatological tribulation in the Jesus tradition and can hardly be discounted simply because it is articulated as a commission accepted by Jesus.204 What is noticeable here is that GTh 16 includes talk of Jesus casting fire on the earth, as in Luke 12.49.205

(5) Most striking of all is the echo of the distinctive metaphor coined by the Baptist: 'He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire' (Matt. 3.11/Luke 3.16). It was the Baptist, we may recall, who brought the metaphor of baptism into play as an image for the great tribulation to come, in which he expected his hearers to be immersed.206 That two of the three key images in the Baptist's prediction (baptism, fire) should reappear here with similar effect and in a not dissimilar combination (both predictive of intense tribulation) can hardly be dismissed as merely coincidental.207 More likely, Jesus was remembered as taking up and echoing (deliberately) the Baptist's metaphor. That Jesus also transformed the metaphor we shall go on to consider below (§17.5). For the moment, however, it is sufficient to note the likelihood that Jesus applied the Baptist's metaphor to his own mission and that he saw in it further indication that he himself must undergo an intense experience (baptism) of suffering.

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