Summary: A sermon on Jesus’ statement about setting the World on Fire
I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!(Luke 12:49 NJB) What a powerful and frightening statement! For those gathered around Jesus it was a very disturbing. Why would it be disturbing? What do these words mean to you?
What do you think of when Jesus talks of fire? Why would He wish the earth to be a blaze? Does He mean an actual burning up of the earth?
Let’s begin by talking about what Jesus meant when He talked about fire. To the people of this time, it would almost always be viewed as the symbol of judgment. In their eyes they felt Jesus regarded the coming of his kingdom as a time of judgment. The Jews firmly believed that God would judge other nations by one standard and themselves by another and that the very fact that a man was a Jew would be enough to absolve him.
However was Jesus really talking about end times or was he referring to another kind of “fire”? Maybe he was referring to the fire of the Holy Spirit. You see for all the judgment and wrath that He did talk of, his true message was to bring about a fire in the hearts of men for God.
Instead of calling down fire from Heaven to destroy us, Jesus is referring to calling down a fire from Heaven to cleanse our souls, to free us from the bonds and wages of our wrong doings. It is also the fire that starts within each of us, that makes us want to spread the Message of the Gospel to others.
Each of us carries the spark of that Fire upon our hearts. We are called by God to pass the igniter of that spark on to others. That igniter is the hope we receive in Christ.
So in a sense Jesus does want the whole world consumed by fire. He wants it to be consumed in our awakening to the call from the Holy Spirit. He wants us spread His message to all.
Why? So that everybody in the world will not have to experience the fire of the final judgment. Jesus tells us these things to give us a sense of urgency in the manners of the spirit.
He also tells us as we take up this cause it will not be easy for those around us. What is it said?
“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 NIV)
Jesus tells the crowd that they are wrong if they think He had come to bring peace to their families and lives. In fact finding Christ in your life can often time have the opposite affect upon a family.
There is a movie called Kingdom Come and in that movie, Whoopi Goldberg plays the matriarch of this strangely dysfunctional family. In this one scene she is speaking to the pastor as they go over her plans for her husband’s funeral. The pastor is explaining how he has observed her husband during his time in the community. However Whoopi explains to him that is because he (the pastor) did not know her husband until he was “old and sick”, quoting her from the movie line.
She tells the pastor of a time when she attended a church revival, and was over come by the Holy Spirit. She said that she got saved that night and she was so happy. She came home and told her husband Bud that he needed to go down to that revival and get his soul saved as well. Bud would not hear of it, in fact he forbade her from ever going to another revival. He was very angry with her for giving God control of her life.
The point is that often times when we have taken Christ into our lives and are filled with the Spirit. We are transformed in such away that people are unable to recognize who we are any more. For loved ones this can be hard because we already have a set image of who this person is, and how that person fits into the family situation.
Sometimes the fear from the other family members is that this person will try to “change” them. Or they will want to point out the flaws in the life they have. As a result, they may even attempt to return that person to the life they previously had.
This is why Jesus said, I have come to bring division. The Word of God is about the sharing of the truth, it is not about making a compromise in what He has said so that we all can get along. However these divisions and splits can be only temporary, they often lead many to find the life they were so avidly against. Where the division between son and father may have appeared irreparable, a new relationship maybe knitted together.