Sermon: The Jesus of Scripture (Luke 12:49-59)

Luke 12.49-59 Click for Audio

The Jesus of Scripture

Luke 12:49-59

Jesus spoke to us last week about the motivation for one to seek the Kingdom of God was to be watchful for His (the Master) return.  Vigilance in the face of eschatological crisis was the point.  Future judgment or reward will show itself as a servant of Christ proves his or her salvation by obedience to the Master especially in the realm of serving those in the church.  Our consistent behavior shows who we love and trust.

Prior to that, Jesus’ point was to seek the Kingdom and not earthly needs because our lives are more than food and clothing.  Seeking the Kingdom is the focus of a healthy Christian.  A Christian will seek the Kingdom because the Kingdom of God is where he longs to lay up treasure.  Along the way, God meets our physical needs.

Prior to that Jesus warned us against the fear of man.  We are not to fear man but we are to fear God.  We are not afraid of man because our allegiance is to God and we trust Him with our lives and even our death.

Now He takes us a step further in His teaching.  To seek righteousness, to be a faithful servant, and to fear God will result in division between people.  Standing up for truth in this world of pluralistic subjectivism and one will not be very popular.  Every idea, it seems, is as good as any other idea except the idea that there is only one right idea.

Earlier in Chapter 12, Jesus teaches His disciples that they will be persecuted by the authorities and that they will be given the words to say when they need them, here, the division is within family units.

Lk 12:49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

Lk 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

Lk 12:51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

Lk 12:52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

Lk 12:53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Lk 12:54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens.

Lk 12:55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens.

Lk 12:56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Lk 12:57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

Lk 12:58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.

Lk 12:59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

1. Baptism by Fire

Lk 12:49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

Lk 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

When Christ came to earth and especially when He began His ministry of preaching He brought division.

By the very nature of His Person and His claims the multitude is split. Some hear the Words of Christ and fall at His feet while others hear those same words and try to have Him killed.

It’s the same today.  When the truth of Scripture is presented it divides.  It always has and it always will.  Nations are divided, Communities are divided and even families are divided.

The bloodiest war in American history was not doubt the Civil War.  Here, families were divided.  Union Senators had sons go to fight for the Confederacy.  Brothers were found one both sides.  Mothers had to pray and write to sons who were fighting against each other, all this over the issue of politics, slavery, and economics.

If this can happen over these issues we would be naive to think division will not happen when it comes to the issues of Christ and the truth.

Jesus explains to us that it began when He was on earth.  When He came, He brought division and fire with Him.  Jesus came to bring a baptism of fire with Him.  He would endure it as He went to the cross.

Lk 3:16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The writer of Hebrews tells us…

Heb 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

When Christ was present in His holiness He brought a refiner’s fire with Him.  God burns with a pure and holy glory.  This fire burns up the impurities and purifies the metal.  For those who reject Christ, this fire is a fire of judgment.  For those who love Christ is a fire that refines.

As Jesus preached this fire was ignited.  His Word is what causes the fire to burn.

Jesus knew this fire all too well.  This fire of God’s Word would cause Him to be crucified… Lk 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

As we take in the Word of God it acts like a fire in the sense of burning away all impurities contained within us.  The more we read and study God’s Word the more we know what’s right and the more we desire to accomplish it in our lives.  God’s Word consumes the impurities or sins within us and refines us into pure gold.

You come from a devote Muslim family in Egypt.  You have always practiced the Muslim religion.  You are walking at the market one-day and hear a street preacher explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ and you immediately believe and are saved.  What do you do?  How will you go back home to your Muslim family not believing any longer what they hold dear?  Do you see how Jesus brings division?

Lk 12:52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

Lk 12:53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

It’s not so much Jesus Himself but it is His Words and teaching that divide.  Many can tolerate a Jesus who just heals and loves and blesses.  Introduce them to the real Jesus and they very quickly change their demeanor.

For us, this division often is the fire that refines us.  What will we do when it comes between Jesus and friends or even family?

At our Lord’s birth we read that the angels declared Peace on Earth and good will to men.  Then here, Jesus clearly says that He didn’t come to bring peace but division.  What’s going on?  Can these two passages be reconciled?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace as Isaiah tells in 9:6.  He is the One who makes us to be at peace with God now and at His second coming, He will usher in a day when mankind will be at peace.  The lion will lie down with the lamb someday.  However, currently He brings division among mankind.

He really isn’t the cause of division.  Mankind’s evil heart is the culprit.  Understand, Jesus has told us the truth.  It’s a sinful world that rebels against Christ and His followers.  Jesus is not the troublemaker mankind is the troublemaker.  Jesus’ truth is right and good and where all humanity should be.  The division comes when truth is presented and evil mankind rebels.  Always remember Jesus is right.

During His earthly ministry He would have brought peace to earth but His people rejected Him.  So it went from peace on earth to a fire of judgment.  Peace on earth is conditional on acceptance of the Savior.  Someday there will be Peace on earth.

For us, we must consider, am I willing to love Christ and stand for what He stood for even if the result is family division?  What happens when we believe the truth of Christ and others in our families don’t?  What happens when we live out our Christian faith and in do so others are offended?

J C Ryle offers us very good counsel here,

Let us never be moved by those who charge the gospel with being the cause of strife and divisions upon earth…it is not the Gospel which is to blame, but the corrupt heart of man…So long as some men and women will not repent and believe, and some will, there must needs be division.  To be surprised at it is the height of folly.  The very existence of division is one proof of Christ’s foresight, and of the truth of Christianity. –Ryle

2. Judging For Yourself What is Right

Lk 12:54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens.

Lk 12:55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens.

Lk 12:56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Lk 12:57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

Lk 12:58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.

Lk 12:59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

The crowds could predict the weather by what they observed.  Whether it was a cloud off the Mediterranean Sea or a south wind bringing arid heat.  However, when it came to the signs of spiritual things they we oblivious.  They had not spiritual discernment.  What Jesus had been teaching them was right.

They heard Him over and over again and even declared that they had never heard anyone teach with such authority.  They failed to discern truth from error.

If they can see a cloud or feel the wind and predict the weather, they should have been able to see the signs of the times.

Here’s some of what they saw.  Let’s take a few minutes and look at some texts we’ve already covered…

Lk 4:35 But Jesus [d] rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.

 Lk 4:38 [g] And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now [h] Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf.

Lk 4:39 And he stood over her and [i] rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

Lk 5:4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, [y] “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Lk 5:5 And Simon answered, “Master, [z] we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Lk 5:6 And when they had done this, [a] they enclosed a large number of fish, and [a]their nets were breaking.

Lk 5:12 While he was in one of the cities, [f] there came a man full of leprosy. [1] And when he saw Jesus, he [g] fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, [h] if you will, you can make me clean.”

Lk 5:13 And Jesus [1] stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Lk 6:10 And [g] after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And [h] he did so, and his hand was restored.

 Lk 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, [h] he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such [i] faith.”

Lk 7:10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

Lk 7:14 Then he came up and touched [m] the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, [n] arise.”

Lk 7:15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus [1] [o] gave him to his mother.

Lk 8:24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and [w] rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, [x] and there was a calm.

Lk 8:43 And there was a woman [t] who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her [u] living on physicians, [1] she could not be healed by anyone.

Lk 8:44 She came up behind him and touched [v] the fringe of his garment, and [w] immediately her discharge of blood ceased.

That’s just some of what they saw.

They saw things and heard things only God could do and say.  If the people could see, they would understand that the Son of God was in their midst.  They should have bowed and served Him.  Instead they continued in their sin.

They saw all the signs that Jesus was the promised Messiah and still they rejected Him.  They would rather listen to the polls, which said He did these miracles by the power of Satan than see and draw their own conclusions.

The question to ask ourselves today is this:

Is Jesus worth serving at all costs?  The evidence is irrefutable.  He is who He claims to be.  He is the Son of God who has come into the world to save sinners.  Will you trust and serve Him no matter the cost?  Or will you compromise when serving Christ becomes unpopular with your friends or even your family?

You must judge for yourself, as Jesus tells us.

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