Scripture: Luke 12:49-53, NLT
49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!
50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished.
51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against one another!
52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of Me and two against–or two in favor and three against.
53 Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Many times is life, we have a preconcieved notion of how something is only to find out it is nothing like what we envisioned. All my life I had heard about Denver, Colorado being the mile high city. So, I imagined Denver to be located on a tall mountain and surrounded by panaramic mountain peaks, snow capped mountain peaks but Denver is located on a plateau. There are no mountain peaks in sight. The acent and decent is so gradual that it is hard to concieve that it is on a mountain at all. Denver was nothing like what I had imagined. It is a spraling metropolice with no mountains in view.
The Jews were looking and longing for the Messiah but Jesus was not what they had imagined. They were looking for a conquering king, not a suffering servant. They were looking for the Prince of Peace; actually, a golden era of peace and prosperity. They loved His miracles, especailly the multiplying of the loaves and fish–they could see where Jesus could make them prosperous and that liked the fact that Jesus was unafraid but Jesus disappointed them. The words He spoke here hurt their ears. It was a TMI moment…Enough Jesus, God forbid, this cannot happen, just hush now, don’t go there, etc.
One of the things that Jesus could not do was lie; He was always bound to tell the truth even when it was painful. He was convicted by the Sanhedrin on the basis of His own confession that He was the Son of God. No way, was Jesus going to deny His Father.
Jesus said, “Do you think that I came to bring peace?” [well I did not] I came to bring fire and a sword [Matt. 10:34] or division.
I. THE FIRST METAPHOR JESUS USES IS “FIRE”
Fire is a symbol of judgment and of the cleansing effect produced by judgment. Fire is a symbol of holiness. The writer of Hebrews said, “Our God is a consuming fire.” [quote from Deuteronomy 4, 9 and Exodus 17]
Let me give you an example: in the OT sacrifical system, they had a bronze altar WHICH was used for sacrifice. They sacrificed animals and the flesh of the animal was placed on the altar, on the wood. They would light the fire and it would consume the flesh until it became a holocaust.
When we get saved, born again, the Holy Spirit [God’s fire] comes into our life and it is a fire that will not go out. It is a consuming fire and it burns up the flesh, all the ways that are not Christ like.
Example: I was saved at the age of 9 and got really serious about serving the LORD at age 19 but I must tell you, at age 19 I loved sports and I loved this world. But God put His holy fire in my bones and it has been burning since–this fire is consuming my love for sports and it is consuming my love for this world. I’m not saying that I have no love for this world but I am saying I have less than I had yesterday. God is chipping away at my lust for things.
Phipps Festus Bourne was a wood carver from Mabry Hill, Virginia. He was famous for carving ducks out of a chunk of wood. His ducks were so good, they seems life-life. Some one asked him how he got a duck from a block of wood. He said, “I just look at the piece of wood and get in my mind everything there that doesn’t look like a duck and I go to chipping away at what doesn’t resemble the duck.”
Instead of chipping with a chisel and hammer, God uses fire and He burns everything that does not resemble Jesus. I know, if you are like me, you are not impressed at this point but God is not through, in the end, you will marvel at His grace and handiwork. What would we be had not Adam and Eve sinned? Well, that is what we are going to be and more. God’s holy fire is going to consume every sinful thing in our lives.
A children’s pastor put the kids on stage in front of the adults and she sat on the front row with cue cards. She would flash a card to the kids and they would imitate or act out the person or thing. Only the children could see the cue cards, the adults had to guess what was on the card by the actions of the children.
The first card read “Chicken” and all the children reacted about the same time, flapping their arms like wings, crowing, etc. The audience got it right away. Next was a “Elephant.” The kids made a trunk with their arms and blew their trumpets. In a few seconds, the audience figured it out. Then came a “ballerina” and some of the kids began twirling on toe tip or trying to and the audience got it right. The last card read JESUS. This was totally unrehersed and the kids were at a lost; they just stood there in deep thought. After a few seconds one little girls threw her arms out wide like Jesus on the cross. It was a jesture of openess and love, eventually the audience figured out it was Jesus.
Are we confused when it comes to acting out so that others see Jesus is us. Better still, are the people we meet and interact with seeing Jesus in our behavior. After reading this story out of OUR DAILY BREAD, I was driving home from work and a flood of conviction filled my soul. It was all I could do to keep driving. I tried to pray out loud but couldn’t: all I could do was weep and I don’t weep often.
What did the Holy Spirit convict me of? My unChristlike attitude. I love those who love me and I love those who acknowledge a need for my help or God’s through me but I do not love everybody, not like Jesus did. I don’t think I hate anyone but I don’t love Muslims. I don’t love people who kill babies. I have a hard time with those who persecute Christians. I do pray that God will burn away all the prejudice and pride that keeps me from loving others but I must confess, my reflection of Jesus has been pitiful.
Jesus came to bring fire and He did: I am living proof that He did and it is burning today, I mean right now and it will not stop until the flesh is consumed.
II. THE SECOND METAPHOR IS THE SWORD
We think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the Peace Speaker or giverof peace and He is all this and more but on His initial trip to this earth, His mission was not peace but a sword which is a symbol for division. Jesus Christ is the GREAT DIVIDER. He divides family, friends, churches and nations.
When you actually sit down and give what Jesus said some thought, you can understand why He said what He did. True conversion produces radical change. This change is so great that it cannot be covered or hidden. When Christ enters a life, He takes control and He begins the long tedious process we call sanctification. Long story short, the Christian has nothing in common with the world other than his flesh or humanity. A Christian has a different world view. We do not think like the world. We do not value what they value. Our goals are totally different. They are amassing wealth while we are laying up treasures in heaven. They think we are crazy and I know they are crazy. If you were to drive through a camp ground and see someone building a house on a camping spot, what would you think? I would say, “They are nuts.” The people of this world are into health and wealth. They seek pleasure like we seek quiet time or time alone with Jesus. They are into hedonism not praise and worship.
Let me illustrate: growing up I had some friends but as a middle teenager, I began seeking God’s will for my life. I stopped drinking [which I never enjoyed in the first place] and began being careful who I ran with. There were certain things that I would not do and I lost friends because of it. People that were once close became distant. My commitment to follow Christ gave me a set of values they did not have or want to adopt. A few of them made jokes about it but most just kept their distance. I grew up with folks that I thought were like brothers but when I surrendered to the ministry at age 19, I had very few friends because we were going in a different direction.
When you think about it: there is no shock to what Jesus said, “I came to divide, I brought a sword not peace.” Jesus has divided all of humanity into one of two groups: the repentant and the unrepentant, the saved and the lost. Every human being is in one of these two camps.
Jesus divided the Jewish Religious leaders; He divided the Jewish people. John 9:16 is a great example–Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. We see it again in John 10–The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Like it our not, Jesus divides. Our nation is divided to the joy of some. We are divided economically, morally, politically, socially, racially and spiritually.
The polls are indicating at present that the presidential race is about 50/50: that is divided almost down the middle. According to a recent Gallup pole, about 50% of Americans favor abortion with 44% opposed. This has changed since Obama has been in office. Before he took office it was 51% pro-life and 42% pro-abortion. About the only place where I don’t see a great divide is on immigration. Gallup says that 77% of Americans are very concerned about immigrations and the open borders. Lets face the facts, America is deeply divided. How is Jesus the source of such division?
As Christians, we are not to compromise with evil which means a true believer will never condon the mass killing of unwanted babies. Our conviction will not change because the One who put those convictions there, does not change.
The problem for Christians is that the left has a strangle holt on this country. They have control of the courts, classrooms and congress. I think it is apparent now that the Republicans as a whole have sold out to special interest. They are under the spell of big corporations just like the democrats. Both parties are corrupt and both are on the take. A Republican House and Senate has done nothing to slow down Obama’s Socialism Express, I mean nothing. Richard Shelby and his commercials were a joke. His campaign ads were as pathethic as he is: He and every senator there is rich because they have taken money from special interest. They do not represent us: they represent the likes of Walmart, the NFL, Apple and G.E. They have betrayed our interest for their own personal interest and they keep getting reelected because they have enough money to flood the airways with propaganda and smear tactics and American’s are dumb enough to believe their lies.
Let me tell you what is going to happen in the next few years; Christians are going to be persecuted. It has already started: case in point–Obama vs. Hobby Lobby but it is going to get worse, much worse. It will get so bad that Christians, real Christians will have to declare their allegience to Christ. Those who are faking are going to drop out of church and churches are going to become stronger. So let Mr. Obama and the left bring on their persecution; it will not heal the divide. Jesus has divided us and we will stay divided until He returns. Our values are totally opposite of the worlds and neither is going to change. I do wish the world would change but I have no hope that it will, my hope is for the next world which will magnify and praise the name of Jesus.