Posted by: missionventureministries | December 14, 2014

Division in the Family – Consequences of Christ’s Coming – Luke 12:49-53

Luke 12 vs 52 (E)

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 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 12:49-53) 

When we first read this passage it sounds like a contradiction. There are so many passages in the Bible where Christ is referred to bringing peace. In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is described as the “Prince of Peace”. Luke 2:14 refers to His coming as a time on earth where there will be peace to those on whom His favor rests. John 14:27 records Jesus’ reassuring words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you”. Although it is true that Christ came to bring peace between believer and God, He came to bring conflict between light and darkness, between God’s children and the children of the devil. Jesus makes it clear in this passage that this conflict can occur even between members of the same family (vv. 52-53). 

Fire is often used, either symbolically or literally, as an instrument of divine wrath, against sinners. The “fire” of which Jesus spoke is the same fire about which the prophets spoke of, the fire of divine wrath.  (Jeremiah 15:14, Lamentations 4:11-13, Ezekiel 20:47-48, Joel 2:1-3, Amos 2:4-5, Malachi 4:1, Revelation 20:9). When Jesus said that He had come to “kindle a fire” He is saying that He has come to bring the outpouring of God’s wrath on the sinful nation of Israel.  

Yes, Jesus did come the first time to save men (John 3:16-17), but for all that reject Him there is no other means of salvation. When He comes again, He will come to judge and condemn the unbeliever to the eternal Lake of Fire. 

How can our Lord be so zealous for this “fire” to be kindled, as His words indicate? If He is going to bring about the judgment of God upon sinners, and if this is not a work in which He takes pleasure, why is He eager for the “fire” to be kindled? The outpouring of wrath is a prerequisite of and preliminary to the establishment of the kingdom of God. In order for the kingdom of God to be established, sinners must be punished and sin eliminated.  

Jesus said that before He cast fire on the earth He had a baptism to undergo. This baptism is clearly the death which He would die on the cross of Calvary. His death on the cross would set in motion a series of events, which will eventuate in the pouring forth of God’s divine wrath on sinners. The sad reality is that it is not really necessary, because Jesus went through the full extent of God’s wrath on the cross. For those who trust in Him, that is the full payment for their sins, but for those who reject Him, there is yet to come the outpouring of God’s wrath in the Day of Judgment. 

“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. 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). 

The division which Jesus speaks of here has several interesting aspects. First, there is a division which occurs within the family. History has borne testimony to the fact that the gospel divides men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children, for faith in Christ requires ultimate allegiance to Him. And pride will always divide. 

Second, those who have come to faith in Christ will join together as the true family of God; while those who have rejected Christ will also find their allies, a new basis of unity, in opposition to Christ. This is how the Pharisees and the Sadducees could join together in rejecting Christ and in opposing Him, and ultimately in orchestrating His death. 

Paul points out that faith in Jesus will produce persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). There will be fathomless joy in heaven, but there will also be pain and persecution for Christians on earth.  

There is no way that we can avoid pain and suffering. The one who follows Christ will suffer now, and will renounce certain of life’s present pleasures, but will experience the limitless joys of heaven later (Hebrews 11:24-26). Following our Lord Jesus Christ will assuredly divide many families and reconciliation, in this instance, is impossible, unless all come to faith in Christ. 

If Jesus is coming to the earth to bring fire upon it, the fire of divine wrath (verse 49), and if men are responsible for their decisions concerning Him (verses 54-56), then men had better seek to be reconciled to Him before that final day of judgment arrives, when it will be too late. 

May none of you be a part of this second group. Jesus in His first coming has already endured the “fire” of God’s wrath. He has already died for the sins of men. Trust in Him and you will never need to fear His second coming. Be reconciled to God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21), and do it before you face Him as your judge, and before you face the fire of His wrath. Do it decisively. Do it quickly. Do it now! 

Because, “transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the LORD will come to an end.” (Isaiah 1:28) 

Lord, we ask that You would work in hearts through Your powerful Holy Spirit. That You Lord would call those who have not yet embraced Christ to respond now while the opportunity still exists.

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