Summary: Jesus comes to bring division
30. Who is Jesus?
March 27th, 2010
Our study through the Gospel of Luke will take about 60 weeks. This is week is week 30 marking our halfway point. We are spending a lot of time in this book studying Jesus life as our goal is to get know more about who Jesus really is.
For generations the church was a hyper controlling, ultra conservative, legalistic entity focused on appearances, traditions, and mindless obedience. Love was not a major theme merely the proverbial spoon full of sugar to help the rules and regulations go down. Out of fear of being associated with the angry gospel of the church that was love has been and is often viewed as a blissful emotion with flower blossoms, sun shine, and rainbows bursting forth from a Jesus who is more like Cosmic Care Bear then an almighty God. When we honestly look at the life of Jesus one thing becomes abundantly clear: love is no gentle thing. True love doesn’t fit on a Valentine’s card. Love is not a happy song from a big purple dinosaur. It is a strong and powerful force that breaks down barriers and transforms lives in a way that cannot be ignored.
As we look at Luke 12:49 we see a very different aspect of who Jesus is as He prepares us for what is to come. This text is a jagged little pill. Sometimes we picture Jesus as this gentle man with a nice trimmed beard, curly brown hair, and blue eyes who came from heaven like a great big hippy to share peace and love to all man-kind. This image is not entirely accurate.
Lk 12:49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! Lk 12:50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!
In Scripture fire is used most commonly to reference two things: judgment, and purification. As Jesus has been preparing us for the coming of the Kingdom of God His words are the standards by which all men will be judged. Those who have followed His teaching will be purified by the refining fire of Jesus judgment. Those who have ignored or neglected His teachings will be consumed by it. Jesus is preparing us for what is to come, He commands us to be ready, and we have no excuse. How faithfully we have carried out the tasks He gave us and how faithfully we lived as His servants will determine whether His fire purifies us or consumes us. Jesus has no problem talking about hell. He talks more about hell than anyone else in the entire Bible. Hell is a real place where real people chose to go.
I wish it were already kindled. When you make a fire you have logs and you have kindling. The logs are the big fuel for the fire and they burn for a long time. Kindling is what you use to light the logs on fire. You need smaller sticks and materials that catch fire quickly and burn for a shorter time to get the logs lit. You need the little stuff to ignite the big stuff. If you want a passionate relationship with Jesus you start by getting the little things right. You start with kindling to get the fire going. The small steps might be changing the way you talk to and about people, learning to be more patient so you don’t react in anger, doing little things to try to live like Jesus. It will look a lot like reading Scripture, praying, and spending time with God and the church. It takes a lot of little things to ignite the big ones. If you want to live a life that looks like Jesus, you start with the little things that help connect you and grow you in your relationship with God.
In addition you need to stay connected. Even after the logs are lit if you take one and separate it from the pile it will burn out. No matter how great the log, one log by itself doesn’t burn for long. You will burn out if you don’t burn together with other believers in the community of the church.
I have avoiding this issue for years because I didn’t want to sound religious. Religion says you have to go to church every week to be a Christian. It uses guilt and obligation to force people into compliance. However, this is not a religious issue it affects your growth in your relationship with God. It is my job as a pastor to deal with it. As a church we struggle with growth, development, and resources because we have a bunch of logs that like to go off and burn by themselves. We have a lot of people who show up one week, don’t the next, show up again, disappear for two weeks without reason.