“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three.”
Dear God, it’s funny how one can read this passage 2,000 years later and be like the disciples at the last supper when he predicts Judas’s betrayal: “Surely it isn’t I, Lord.” But I’m not exempt from this either. Division from children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.
I’ll admit that I don’t understand this passage and that Jesus’s words are confusing here. I saw a mock trial at a church one time where they were sentencing Jesus as a capital punishment candidate because he was dangerous to society. Before the mock trial he had already been found guilty. The question for the audience as the jury is whether or not he deserved to die because he was that dangerous. The mock prosecutor used passages like this to show that Jesus did deserve to die. I have to hand it to the writers like Luke here. They didn’t whitewash the more challenging things Jesus said.
Of course, Jesus had experienced this within his own earthly family. His brothers and even Mary had gotten crossways with him. And he also knew that Satan would attack us through disunity and our weaknesses. He would use the sin and insecurities and addictions in our lives to drive us apart. Then there is the thorn in his flesh to which Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 12. I suppose that if my life were exactly idyllic then I would have the gift of pain I talked about last week to mold me. Like a leper, the lack of pain would cause my life and soul to wither.
Father, I don’t know where all of this is going or how it all works out. Lead me to a peace that passes understanding. And keep me humble and willing to examine my heart with the help of the Holy Spirit and repent when necessary.
In Jesus’s name I pray,