Summary: Jesus desired to bring a burning, exciting, dynamic presence of God in the lives of people. God’s fire is dazzling and powerful and can work wonders in your life.
Are You Fired Up for Jesus?
by David O. Dykes
Sometimes sermons can be too long. A bishop spoke in Chapel at Yale University. He spoke for 15 minutes on how the Y in Yale stood for “Youth” then for another 15 minutes about how A stood for “Ambition,” the L stood for “Leadership” and the E stood for “Energy.” After an hour, everyone was bored to tears. As the Bishop finished his message, a student came and knelt in prayer at the altar. The Bishop was impressed and asked, “Son, what was it in my message that moved you so?” The student said, “Actually, I was just thanking God that this was not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology!”
Some sermons are like Tabasco sauce: they are fiery and give you heartburn. At the end of this message, I hope you’ll consider this to be a Tabasco message and I hope you DO have heartburn–but the good kind of burning heart. In this message about divine fire, I want to ask you: Are you fired up for Jesus?
Theologians have debated this question for centuries: Why did Jesus come to planet Earth? What was the purpose of the Incarnation? Jesus directly answers this question several times in the New Testament. For instance in John 10:10 Jesus said: “I have come that you might have life–and have it more abundantly.” Again in Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In Matthew 20:28 He said, “The Son of Man has come to give his life as a ransom for many.” You probably are aware of those scriptures. But did you know Jesus also said He came to bring fire on the earth? Read it for yourself in Luke 12:49-50. Jesus said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!”
Even though we are only halfway through the book of Luke, Jesus is only a few short weeks away from the time when He will go to Jerusalem and be betrayed, arrested, tortured and crucified. There was a “fire” He brought to earth, and He was wishing this “fire” had already been ignited. But because it wasn’t yet kindled, He would have to endure a “baptism.” This would be a baptism of suffering. We use the word “baptism” in reference to water baptism–but the word means “to be immersed.” Jesus realized that in a few weeks He would be totally immersed in agonizing pain and torture, and the prospect of that suffering caused Him to be distressed.
The word “bring fire” is a word that means to “cast fire” or to “throw fire.” Jesus came to be a holy flamethrower! The fire He is speaking of is not literal fire but a spiritual fire. He is speaking of the burning, exciting, dynamic presence of God in the lives of people. I want to show you from scripture what this fire is and what it can do in your life.
1. GOD’S FIRE ILLUSTRATES HIS DAZZLING PRESENCE
In the scriptures, God sometimes revealed Himself through a physical representation; this is called a theophany. Fire is the most common theophany. There are several definitive statements about God in the Bible: God is Holy; God is Light; God is Love; God is Spirit. But this is a symbol of God. God is not fire–He is like fire–and He uses it to symbolize His awesome presence.
When God appeared to Moses He spoke out of the flame of a burning bush. Later, on Mt. Sinai, God appeared to all the Israelites as a fire on the mountain. Exodus 24:17 says, “To the Israelites, the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire.” What a sight that must have been! There is something awesome and scary about fire, no wonder God chose that theophany. Later, when Moses built the Tabernacle, they made the first sacrifice in the Holy of Holies. God again revealed Himself by fire. Leviticus 9:24 says, “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering ... And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face-down.”
Years later, the prophet Elijah stood on Mt. Carmel and called on God to send down fire and God showed up and burned up the sacrifice. When the Apostle John had a vision of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1, he described Him as having eyes like a blazing fire. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, God’s presence is represented by fire.
That’s what Jesus is talking about, bringing the supernatural, burning, exciting presence of God Almighty down into our lives. Micah and Zechariah also picture God as fire, but the clearest explanation of what Jesus is talking about is found in the New Testament. When John the Baptist was asked if he was the Messiah he replied, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16) Jesus came to totally immerse people in the burning, purifying, awesome presence of God. That’s why He came to bring fire on the earth. When you have a personal encounter with the God of the Universe, it’s like an experience with Holy Fire. On the first Easter, those two disciples walked with the resurrection Jesus on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize that it was Jesus because they were certain He was dead and buried. After Jesus revealed Himself and disappeared they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us?” (Luke 24:32)