This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 12:49 ‘I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if
This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 12:49
‘I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled.’
These rather striking, or at least startling, words spoken by Jesus Himself, when He said, verses 49 through 53, of Luke’s gospel account, of His strange works:
I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire if it is already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for there shall be from hence-forth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law.
How can these things be? We may well inquire. That the One who is called; the very One, we are told, that came to give peace in the earth, He asks. Well, yes. We have read in multiple books and verses in the Word of God, that He is our peace; yea, Paul has written of this blessed truth, to the saints at Ephesus, 2:14, where he said;
For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace.
So why do we not have peace? Why are neighbors not at peace with one another? Why, even as we read in our focus passage, is there so often no peace, even in many families; even in many families professing faith in the Christ; the Prince of Peace?
We have sung, over the years, and upon the annual celebration of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior, that popular ‘song of the season,’ “I heard the bells on Christmas Day; there old familiar carols play, and mild and sweet their songs repeat, of peace on earth good will to men.” Well, what has happened to that? Why is peace among men so elusive? Even during that precious occasion of remembering the coming on earth of our Lord and Savior; He who is announced Prince of Peace. What has become of the glorious promise echoed, as recorded, in Isaiah 6:9,
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end.
And yet, at the same time, and from His own lips, here in our focus passage, we are informed that; not only will there be division, but that He Himself has come to cast fire upon the earth. And from the words which follow, it seems evident that this fire is, itself, speaking of the divisions which will ensue. Again, How can these things be? How is it that the very, ‘Prince of Peace’ is to bring division; fire upon the earth? How comes it to be that all these familiar family members are to set, one against the other; father against son, son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, and so on? Where is the promised peace?
Paul has written, to Rome, Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
What is the ‘therefore,’ there for? We must needs back up to the preceding two verses for an answer. Paul, in the conclusion of Romans, the fourth chapter, has written of the merits of Christ for His people, when he penned these precious words of accomplishment; Now it was not written for his [Abraham’s] sake alone that it was reckoned unto him; but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification. That is exactly just what the ‘therefore,’ is there for. Therefore, that is, because of the salvific activity of Jesus Christ on behalf of His people; His life, His death, His burial, His resurrection; each and all being laid to our account, that we might have ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Peace is the ultimate outcome and consummation of conflict and war, is it not? At least, the professed goal of every war has, ostensibly, peace.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his usual and singular manner, which is most commonly pithy [terse, weighty, cogent, succinct], and right to the point. Spurgeon was never one to beat around the bushes as we do. Lend your ears, or in this case, your eyes, to his helpful comments upon this portion of the Word of God, which have come from the lips of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Peace will be the ultimate issue of our Lord’s coming; but, at the first, the Lord Jesus sends a sword among men. He wars against war, and contends against contention. In the act of producing the peace of heaven he arouses the rage of hell. Truth provokes opposition, purity excites enmity, and righteousness arouses all the forces of wrong.
During the process of fermentation, in which the right works for mastery, natural relationships go for nothing as preservatives of peace. The coming of Christ into a house is often the cause of variance between the converted and the unconverted. The more loving the Christian is, the more may he be opposed: love creates a tender zeal for the salvation of friends, and that very zeal frequently calls forth resentment. We are to expect this, and not to be put about by it when it occurs. Animosities on account of religion often excite the fiercest of enmities, and nearness of kin inflames rather than quenches the hostility. We are to press on in confessing the Lord Jesus, come what may of it. Even if our house become a den of lions to us, we must stand up for our Lord. The peace-at-any-price people have no portion in this kingdom.”—Spurgeon, The Gospel of Matthew.
Do we venture to expostulate; to remonstrate, or object, that this speaks of something beyond reason? Do we even pretend that Jesus is asking, expecting us to face family and friend, as something that He never had faced, or experienced? In the language of the glorious Prince of Peace, ‘Have ye never read’? in John’s gospel account, and in 6:66, where it is written, Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Those are disciples, perhaps friends, but just a few verses later, in 7:5, we read, For even his brethren did not believe on him; that is, His half-brothers.
Dare we complain that we have experienced friends, and perhaps even family that have separated themselves from us, and forsaken us, because we love Christ. The Word tells us that He first loved us, or we would never have loved Him. But it also reminds us that we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points been tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Yea, He is the One who came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
More in This Week's Focus Passage
September 18, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: Isaiah ‘For this is as the waters of Noah unto me.’
September 11, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of
September 4, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: Proverbs 22:6 ‘Train up a child in the way he should go.’