THE DIFFICULTY OF THE MISSION
Text: Luke 12:49-56
“On Sunday, February 18, 2001, NASCAR lost one of its greatest drivers. Dale Earnhardt Sr., also known as "The Intimidator," was in third place on the last lap of the Daytona 500 when his car was tapped from behind and sent head-on into the wall at 180 mph.
In a matter of moments it was evident something was terribly wrong. Dale Earnhardt died in the crash. On the following Monday an autopsy report revealed he had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Some have suggested that if Earnhardt had been wearing the HANS (Head and Neck Safety Device) he would have survived the crash. Although this device was available, Earnhardt, like many other drivers that day, neglected to use it. His neglect of this safety device may have cost him his life.
The Bible tells us that every individual is on a collision course with God’s judgment. God, too, has provided a safety device--one designed to keep people from suffering eternal death and separation from God. But like Dale Earnhardt and the other drivers in the race that day, each of us must decide whether to accept or neglect this offer.” (David P. Barrett. ed. More Perfect Illustrations For Every Topic And Occasion. Micheal Owenby. “Accepting Christ”. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2003, pp. 4-5). The safety device that God has provided to save us from eternal separation from Him is called salvation and it comes through Jesus Christ who is “… the way, the truth and the life because no one gets to God the Father except through Jesus Christ” (John 14:6). Jesus came to us with a mission---our salvation!
Jesus speaks about one of the things of His mission, which is to bring fire on earth (Luke 12:49). Jesus also speaks about a baptism that he must undergo with distress until it is completed (Luke 12:50). The baptism that Jesus is speaking of involves suffering. It is as if Jesus is alluding to the unpleasant part of His mission when He ties these two together ideas of the fire He is bringing and the baptism of suffering that He will endure. There are times when we face difficult times that we simply cannot avoid. Those difficult times are like a storm that we cannot avoid, because of the fact that the only way out is through the storm. For Jesus to avoid the storm of suffering that was in His forecast, He would have been to scrub (cancel) His mission. Jesus came to set us free!
JESUS HAD A MISSION
His mission brings salvation and peace. Jesus came to bring peace where humanity was lacking peace. The message of salvation and peace allow the light of Christ to shine in the hearts and lives of all who are receptive to the message. But, this message is not without its sacrifices and challenges. As someone recalls a childhood memory he (Leonard Sweet) alludes to challenges of the missionary field: “As a child I heard a memorable story at a holiness revival meeting in New York. It seems a certain missionary, home on leave, was shopping for a globe of the world to take back to her mission station. The clerk showed her a reasonably priced globe and another one with a lightbulb inside. "This is nicer," the clerk said, pointing to the illuminated globe, "but of course, a lighted world costs more." ” (David P. Barrett. ed. More Perfect Illustrations For Every Topic And Occasion. Leonard Sweet. “The Cost Of Missions”. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2003, p. 183). In the spiritual side of life, a lighted world costs more because of the missionary challenges (evil) that are at work to prevent the light. Sometimes the challenges are social and/or political. Jesus had challenging people, who sometimes tried to challenge His ministry in such a way as to make His mission an exercise in futility. For Jesus, His ministry and His mission were one in the same!