In Luke 12, Jesus is focused on our choices. He first warns a rich man not to be a fool with his money. Later he warns his disciples to remain watchful. Now Luke records the sober words in today’s text. The choice we make regarding Jesus and his kingdom will affect others around us. Calling for our decision is not easy. We can hear in our Lord’s voice a deep longing that this reckoning with choices be over and done with: “How distressed I am . . .” We would say he wants to “get past this.” That said, Jesus will not hide the cost of discipleship.
Jesus will not mislead us about the kingdom separation that is coming. He wants us to see it for what it is. Two times in this text he says he has come to bring “fire” and “division.” Then he bears down on the hard news. Three times “division” is branded onto his narrative. He then proceeds to itemize the potential schisms in painful detail.
It is striking how intimate these divisions are. Family members are separated. Generations are divided. Indeed, this sounds very much like one of those manufacturer disclaimers that lawyers draft to protect sellers from legal claims: Buyer beware. The decision Jesus is calling you to will break your closest relationships.
Change brings discomfort. The kingdom-defining moments in our lives affect us and those we love. The relational friction shows up in differing values and priorities. We can try to avoid this discomfort and circumvent the change that God is working, but Jesus invites us into his kingdom with full disclosure. God is doing a new thing.
Holy God, we struggle to hear the words of the scripture today. We would prefer to have Jesus delay a call to decision and division. Help us accept the choices that are before us and act faithfully, trusting you with the outcome. Amen.
Isaiah compares the people of Israel to a vineyard that God has planted. However, the grapes that grow there have become wild. There is no justice, no right living in the vineyard, so God is considering letting it be destroyed. The psalmist uses the same metaphor to bemoan the state of God’s people. The vineyard has been overrun, burned, and cut down. The psalmist appeals to God to restore the vineyard. The author of Hebrews presents many more examples of people of faith in past times. All these exemplars now surround us and cheer us on in our life of faith. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus cautions that following the gospel requires full commitment. For some, this will mean tension in relationships, even within families. Following Jesus is not a commitment of convenience.
Read Isaiah 5:1-7. Recall a time when you lovingly prepared a place. What would prompt you to destroy it?
Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How has God restored you when you have been at your most vulnerable?
Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Who makes up your personal Faith Hall of Fame? How does each person cheer you on in your spiritual journey?
Read Luke 12:49-56. What does it mean for your life of faith for Jesus to have come to bring division?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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