No Peace, But Division

Luke 12: 49-53

DIG: Of what fire is Jesus speaking? What baptism? What division? How does Yeshua bring division? Who prophesied of this when Christ was a baby? When? Where? How does this relate to Luke 12:31-34? How do you reconcile this with the fact that He brings peace? How might these verses indicate how the crowd has “misread” Messiah?

REFLECT: What has Yeshua brought to your family and friends: division or peace? How have you personally suffered as a result of your faith in Messiah? Have you been divorced? Have you been ostracized from your family? Have you lost friends over your faith? Have you lost a job or been persecuted at work? How did you handle it? Do you think God’s name was glorified through your actions, or dragged through the mud?

Jesus further clarifies the nature of His messianic mission and warns His inner circle of apostles what to expect. Messiah explains to them that His teaching inevitably provokes opposition and that divisions will come. There were some who would believe in Yeshua as the long awaited Messiah and some who would reject Him. This was not unexpected.

Christ emphasizes the fact that He came to bring the refining fire of holiness on the earth (Luke 12:49a). Fire is in the emphatic position in the Greek text; literally, fire I have come to bring. The fire of a burning, purifying, life-giving message, the fire of an unquenchable zeal in the hearts of His talmidim and other disciples, the fire of the Ruach HaKodesh, and the ultimate fire of judgment against sin on the earth (Isaiah 66:24; Malachi 3:2-3; First Corinthians 3:13-15; Revelation 19:20, 20:14-15).1045 All judgment was committed into His hands. And the Father has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man (John 5:27).

And how I wish that fire of the Holy Spirit was already ignited (Luke 12:49b)! The grammatical construction for a contrary-to-fact condition indicates that Yeshua longed for the completion of His mission, which was incomplete at that time. As Simeon had predicted years earlier (see Au – Jesus Presented at the Temple), the Son of Righteousness was destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Isra’el, and to be a sign that will be spoken against (Luke 2:34). In the same way, the Second Coming will bring a reward for the faithful but also judgment for the unrepentant (see my commentary on Revelation Fo – The Great White Throne Judgment).

But I have a baptism to undergo (Luke 12:50a). The key for understanding this metaphor is found in a parallel passage in Mark 10:38-39, where the cup Jesus was to drink refers to His zeal to complete His mission and death: Can you drink the cup I drink of and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? This baptism involved Yeshua’s total identification with sinful mankind in which He bears our sins and our punishment. We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to their own way; yet ADONAI laid on Him the guilt of us all. Thus, He becomes a sacrifice for our sins, giving up His very life and immersing Himself into death, paying the death penalty we owe for our sins Like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:6-7 CJB).1046

I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I AM under a heavy burden until it is accomplished (Luke 12:50b NLT)! The Lord’s commitment to God’s will was total. He completely obsessed to complete His baptism, even though it meant suffering death in Jerusalem (Luke 13:32-33). The Son of Righteousness longed for His baptism despite what it entailed because only through its completion would the fire burst into flames. Messiah’s death is seen here not as a tragedy or a terrible twist of fate but as the fulfillment of the divine plan.

Some might conclude that because Christ did not unite the nation of Isra’el, He was not the Messiah. But the Lord’s answer would be: Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. Yeshua is not to rule in glory at His First Coming; He is not at that time to fulfill the Messianic prophecies of world peace: They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore (Isa 2:4). For this reason, He will bring division. Families, both Jewish and Gentile, have been divided and loyalties broken because of our Savior. Jewish believers are still ostracized from their families and friends if they believe Yeshua is Messiah. But to be His disciple we must count the costs.

Some will acknowledge Him as Meshiach, while others will not, so that families will be split down the middle over this issue (Matthew 10:34-39). From now on means thatthe division did not start after Jesus’ death and resurrection but had already begun, there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. Then Yeshua quotes from Micah 7:6, and gives specific examples of the coming division: 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 12:51-53). There before the apostles was a period of work, waiting and trial. The Master would prepare them for it.

Fire and division. Two powerful images packed into one brief passage of Scripture. Sometimes, it can be difficult not to question God’s compassion when He speaks to us through such dark images. Our Father clearly has an abundance of peace and unity to bring into our lives, but even as we stand firm in our faith, there are times when we may encounter strife and disagreement – even within our own families.

One day when Messiah preached a sermon on the mountainside (see Da – The Sermon on the Mount), Yeshua told His disciples to seek first the Kingdom of God, and the “the rest” will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33). But “the rest” is not always a life without problems. Given the state of our world, it is unrealistic to expect a totally carefree existence. What is it, then, that will be given to us as well? It is the promise made in Hebrews 12, a life of discipline and grace in Jesus Christ. No matter what our situation, we can trust that Jesus is always with us, helping us to work through the difficulties we face in this world: Don’t let your hearts be troubled . . . I have told you this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 14:1 and 16:33 NLT).

When He spoke of the fire that He wished were already burning Jesus was talking of the Holy Spirit who was to come after Him to fill the heart of every believer. The divisions He spoke of referred to people or ideologies opposing ADONAI, and how that which opposed God will be separated from His Kingdom. The message of faith challenges people and their relationships, even the strongest bonds of love found in our families.

In the face of these challenges, how should we respond to those who may not agree with the Word of God? We should never be reluctant to speak the truth of the Gospel. We are called to be unafraid of the Lord’s purifying, unquenchable fire. Let us eagerly embrace His Word as well as the dividing sword of the Ruach HaKodesh as He moves swiftly to separate the wheat from the chaff (Luke 3:17).

Lord Jesus, we dedicate ourselves to You right now. No matter what the cost, we want to follow Your way, not the way of this world. Amen. He is worthy.1047


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