I can picture Jesus walking through the countryside teaching his disciples. He gave them short little snippets to help them remember, often repeating himself. Today, his words are recorded so we read them repeatedly to remind ourselves of all he taught.
Three short teachings here help us understand more about the Kingdom of God and how we are to relate within that kingdom.
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, 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 her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 12:49–53 (ESV)
Jesus talks about fire, making a spiritual application. Some realities about fire:
- It is destructive and purifying, destroying evil and impurities in the lives of those who experience it.
- Fire is self-sustaining. Often in major fires, the heat and energy of the fire creates its own wind aiding in its spread.
- Fire is spreading by nature and tends to move out onto more fuel.
- The fire that Jesus speaks of is a strong move of the Spirit that results in the division he describes.
We see the symbol of the fire at Pentecost, a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s baptism. He later spoke to the disciples about the work of the Holy Spirit and how essential it was for them to experience it.
Clearly, this was a great desire of Jesus.
There is so much symbolism in baptism. It is an immersion into faith and it is also an immersion into calamity.
In Jesus case, he was talking about the events to come. That baptism included betrayal, desertion, torture, crucifixion, bearing the world’s sin and death.
He was feeling the distress of the upcoming events but he knew that they had to be accomplished. Once accomplished the fire could burn and spread.
Peace — Division
The gospel brings division in families because it is fiercely opposed by Satan. So the family is used as a weapon against the gospel. Family pressure and traditions are powerful and family separation is life changing.
We see the fulfillment of the prophecy today in so many places and with so many people.
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Luke 12:54–56 (ESV)
Jesus’ life became a sign for us. His teaching, his example, his death and resurrection all pointed to the father who was glorified by his life.
His contemporaries were unable to see this. Despite the fact that they had the law and the prophets, they were still blind!
Conflict — Resolution
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
Luke 12:57–59 (ESV)
When we are embroiled in conflict, we need to step back and examine a situation. We need to make things right — as far as it is within our power.
We can make a temporal and an eternal application to this teaching.
The temporal. When sued, try to make things right. If you are liable, work out a solution — don’t fight it because if you are unwilling the reconcile the consequences could be are dire!
The eternal. We have a debt of sin. We have a Father who is willing to reconcile but we must admit our debt and ask forgiveness. Failure to do it will mean eternal punishment!
As we follow Jesus, he implants his teaching in our hearts and minds. It is our responsibility to listen and apply these things to our lives. What have you learned today? Share it in the comments.