Sometimes Jesus Was a Laid-Back and Noble Professor of Goodness. Other Times He Was Spoiling For a Fight….
Jesus Came Not to Bring Peace, but Division
(Luke chapter 12, verses 49–59)
Last week in our ongoing study of the writings of the apostle Luke, we concluded part 3 of chapter 12 with Jesus continuing to teach his apostles and the surrounding crowd, which was evidently of considerable size. “For those who have been given much”, Jesus taught, “much will be required”. The more gifts and abilities one has — whether they be natural abilities such as a knack for fixing things or being a really good musician, or of gifts of the Spirit as described by the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 — the more those individuals will be required to use those God-given abilities in service to others so that God may be glorified. Those who fail to do these things are falling short, and in so doing are watering down their own salvation in Christ the risen Lord. Let’s not make that mistake, people — keep your eyes on the prize, which is eternity with Christ Jesus. And now let’s commence today’s study beginning at verse 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 how distressed I am 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.” (Luke 12, verses 49–53)
What was Jesus talking about here? It almost seems that He was rambling around from one topic to another. After all, in one sentence our risen Savior was talking about our responsibility to use the gifts God has given us, and in the next he was talking about bringing “fire on the earth”. I think one strong possibility was that someone stuck their hand in the air and asked Jesus a question, and what we’re seeing is his response. It’s equally possible that this interaction probably took place at a later time that day, but at the same location. But that does not matter…