I still have this fire burning within from a conversation I had with my four-year-old granddaughter this morning. Papa: “Ave, are you going to church?” Ave: “No. The church is boring! “
It was at that moment that I realized that my 4-year-old granddaughter and my son, her youth pastor, are divided.
In this morning gospel text (Luke 12:49-56 49) “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on, there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Some Bibles give it the title “Not Peace but Division.”
I felt like this was written just for Hosanna. If we ask the question “Why did Jesus come to planet Earth?”, Jesus directly answers this question several times in the New Testament. For instance, in John 10:10, Jesus said: “I have come that you might have life–and have it more abundantly.” Again in Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to give his life as a ransom for many.” In this morning’s text, Jesus also said he “came to bring fire on the earth?” (Luke 12:49-50), and how he wishes it were already kindled! But he had a baptism to undergo, and how distressed he was until it is completed!
I don’t believe this is what most of us came to church this Sunday morning hoping to hear. To a large extent, our families are what make us who we are, where we learn the difference between right and wrong, where we develop the basic framework of the outlook on life that we will carry with us always. Families are where we first learned about Christ and his church. Good, bad, or indifferent; family ties are some of the most significant relationships in our lives. We read about family conflict in the newspaper, watch it on TV, and struggle with it in our own homes. Guess what? It is in the Bible too! Since when is Jesus, a proponent of family discord?
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the Bread of Life, the Living Water.
Like it or not, this passage talks about division, not reconciliation.
In this passage, Jesus is not talking about small and large rifts in the fabric of the family that happen as a result of the natural wear and tear or the unexpected trauma and tragedy of life—situations where his reconciling love and grace and forgiveness have been known to work miracles.
No, in this passage, Jesus is talking specifically about the division that happens as a direct result of a decision to follow him.
Jesus emphatically states that division will occur because of him. There was a “fire” He brought to earth, and He was wishing this “fire” had already been ignited. But because it wasn’t yet kindled. He would have to endure a “baptism.” This would be a baptism of suffering.
Jesus realized that in a few weeks, He would be totally immersed in agonizing pain and torture, and the prospect of that suffering caused Him to be distressed.
The word “bring fire” is a word that means to “cast fire” or to “throw fire.” The fire He is speaking of is not literal fire but a spiritual fire. He is speaking of the burning, exciting, dynamic presence of God in the lives of people. I pastor some of those very people here at Hosanna and love them dearly.
I love my children and believe them to be a gift from God. However, we do not agree when it comes to some of the music that they choose to listen to let me be honest and tell you that I have been accused of burning and destroying their cd’s in the past. I love them more today than I did yesterday.
Jesus came bringing the heat!
In the scriptures, God sometimes revealed Himself through a physical representation; which in Greek is called the-oph-a-ny. Fire is the most common the-oph-a-ny. Jeremiah 20:09b his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. When God appeared to Moses, He spoke out of the flame of a burning bush. Later, on Mt. Sinai, God appeared to all the Israelites as afire on the mountain. When the Apostle John had a vision of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1, he described Him as having eyes like a blazing fire. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, God’s presence is represented by fire.
Continuing his instruction to his disciples on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus expresses his burning desire that what he began at his baptism, namely, his sacrificial death, will be completed. Discord and division, even within families, will accompany the Peace, he brings.
This passage is both a rare glimpse into the mind of Jesus, revealing a mixture of impatience for it to happen and reluctance that it inevitably must happen, and also a warning to his disciples that the same will happen to them.
Jesus lit a lot of fires by his teaching and behavior. He is not the cause of discord, nor is discord his purpose. Sometimes the result of accepting Jesus is division, a division from any and all who are not in harmony with Jesus. In verses fifty-two and fifty-three, Jesus spells out the lengths to which this discord might extend, a division within families. For the son dishonors his father, the daughter rises up against her mother. The daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law and a man’s enemies are those of his own household.” So, he says, “Do not expect peace to break out all over all of a sudden. No, there will still be that rejection of the truth that I teach and that you preach by your lives. We may never be the church that adds monitors or projectors, and it may not matter to some that we have an antiquated audio system. I had to learn that if I was going to asked my children to join me on a road trip that just because I was doing all the driving not all the stops for meals would be at my favorite restaurants and the music played were from my list of songs.
Jesus told his disciples the reason why these things were going to happen, but he never gave them the answer as to how it should be shoved, WHY? That was the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.