On Wednesday mornings, I teach one of the most fun Bible studies I’ve ever taught. I teach our Older Adults here at St. Matthew’s a Bible study based off the classic book Hard Sayings of Jesus. Now, if anyone has ever taken a Bible study with me, you know that I use the book as a starting point, but don’t really stay there.
Today’s passage was one of the texts that we have looked at recently. Listen to what we are told in Luke 12: 49-53:
49’I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
That doesn’t sound like something we’d expect Jesus to say, does it? We expect Jesus to only say nice things? This sounds mean. Doesn’t Jesus bring us all together? What is Jesus talking about here? What is going on?
Yes, Jesus loves everyone. And yes, God desires everyone to be saved. But what Jesus is talking about here is the choice that we have. We all must make a choice. A choice to follow Him or not. A choice to obey or not. A choice to be obedient or not. A choice to follow or not.
Jesus will not take away our free will. He will let us choose. In fact, He wants us to choose. But one of the things He came for was just for that choice. Some will choose to follow, some will choose not to. That choice, will, in reality, bring division. Jesus is simply telling us the truth. That choice to follow or not brings division.
Now, as we read the rest of Gospels, we see that Jesus loves everyone, even those that nailed Him to the cross. That is our calling as well. But, here’ the thing. The only way, the only way, the only way that we can really love folks, especially those that are cruel towards us, that hurt us, that may be an enemy is to follow Jesus. Only His life and love through us will allow us to properly love everyone.
Our call is to love all. But the only way that we can love all is by making this choice to follow. And then someone of the folks that we are called to love may be divided against us. But you know what? We love them anyway, through Jesus. Because only Jesus is life. And that that is why we choose to follow.
Because in Him is where life is found.