Not Peace but Division

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under 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 (Luke 12:49-52).” This is very contradictory to a sermon I heard about two years ago. The speaker was saying how Jesus came to bring joy and peace to this world. While He did bring joy, peace has not been here for quite some time. While the speaker had some interesting points and five verses to back up his position, I think he missed this verse.
I did not want to bash his sermon; that is not the purpose of this post. I wanted to go more into the verse above, and simply thought it was interesting that these verses contradicted each other. Or do they? Look at the context in the first verse a little closer. “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and I wish it were already kindled!” He is speaking metaphorically at the time, obviously. He is not kindling a physical fire. But if you think about a fire, kindling it is what gets it started strong. It’s what gets it started. He came to open the doors between mankind and God. He was kindling the overall plan for man. He was getting God’s operation started. Now, look at the next sentence: “But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!” Well, if you recall, He was already baptized in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John’s recollection of it in John 1. So why would He need to be baptized again? Take a look at these two verses:
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).” “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).” The baptism that Jesus was referring to was his crucifixion; the release of His Holy Spirit and being bathed in His blood. Jesus was referring to His crucifixion which would occur years later.
And what constraint I am under until it is completed!” This is His desire to miss the crucifixion; to escape from His death. We can see His distressed self showing in Matthew 26:37-45 (Gethsemane prayer). He is weeping and asking that the cup, the symbol He uses for His blood at the Last Supper, might be removed from Him. Or in other words, that He might be granted free from the yoke and pain of the crucifixion that would only days after occur. But God did not remove His yoke, for to do so would make Jesus’ entire reason for being on earth go viral.
Why do you think it is that God came to bring division on the earth?
In my mind, it is not as we envision. From this verse and other verses, we see Jesus speaking in parables, and often with hidden meanings that we cannot detect. It is so here.
He did not come to rouse the people up and fight with one another. He came to bring Christianity and salvation into the world, and in doing so, brought division and persecution and hate and all those things that are familiar to Christians, both in America and foreign countries. Couldn’t God prevent that? Yes. But then that would invalidate His words, “…Take up your cross, and follow me (Matt. 16:24)” Christianity will not be easy. There will be a constant struggle against mankind and the devil himself. But when it is over, your reward – an eternity with Jesus Christ – will be oh-so worth it!

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2 thoughts on “Not Peace but Division

  1. So many people ignore this passage! It’s much more enjoyable to talk about peace and joy. Those are there too, but what Jesus very clearly promises is that He will give us peace… during the war, not by avoiding the war. Good thoughts!

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    • Thanks, Taylor! I was unaware of that fact, but I’m glad I got to cover it. Yes, peace and joy are [understandably] more pleasing to talk about, but I agree that you get peace by warring. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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