(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. The Word is meant to be heard.)
Usually, we think about Jesus being calm and in control. He is the man of peace, after all. However, in the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus seems hardly peaceful at all!
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
Whoa. Jesus seems extremely stressed out. He is definitely upset about something.
Sometimes, when we are really upset and worked up about something, we try to get others worked up about it, too—to care about what we care about. It drives us crazy when they just sit there, drinking their coffee, calmly goes about their business. We want them unruffled! We want them to get upset, too! This is how Jesus sounds. It is as if he is saying, "Look people, I'm serious about this Kingdom of God stuff! Are you listening???"
Last week we heard him tell the people to be like servants expecting their master to arrive at any time. Perhaps the people just listened politely but did nothing about the treasure offered to them. Perhaps they did not nothing to change their behaviour.
"I came to bring 🔥 to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
Well 🔥 certainly brings change. It destroys. This does not seem like the Jesus we know, does it? Doesn't Jesus come to build the Kingdom, not to destroy??
We have to remember that 🔥 does not only burn, it also purifies. Heating a substance cleanses it of all contaminates; 🔥 cleanses much better than water. 🔥 removes impurities. What does Jesus want to remove from the people?
Also, putting a hard metal into 🔥 will make the metal become soft. A blacksmith may mold it into the shape he or she wants. If the people listening have hard hearts—if they are not getting passionate with him—maybe Jesus wants to put their hearts into 🔥 so that he can mold them into different hearts.
Hearts that care.
Hearts that love.
Hearts that burn with passion for the Kingdom of God.
Hearts like his.
Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
If Jesus gets all the people fired up, they will not be politely interested anymore, will they? If he gets their hearts burning, they will not be bored. They will care! They will be passionate!
From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three
When people get fired up, life is not really peaceful. Passionate people do not always agree. They make others react—sometimes not in a good way. But it seems that Jesus likes this better than people who do not care, who are not really interested at all.
Does this fit with what we know about Jesus?
In the parable of the Good Shepherd, after Jesus tells us that he calls his own sheep by name, that he knows them and lays down his life for them, he also says,
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." - John 10:16
One flock. One. All the sheep together with the shepherd. This does not sound like division. Does it fit with our Gospel reading this week? Does Jesus gather us together or break us apart???
What sort of division problem gives an answer of One?
5 ÷ 5
764 ÷ 764
158 023 ÷ 158 0123
We have to divide all into all.
All of God into all of us.
I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!
What is this baptism Jesus is speaking about?
When Jesus dies on the cross he gives all of himself for us, he gives all of himself to God. He dies to his old life; he rises to new God-filled life. He is One with God.
We hear the stress in his voice. He wants this complete now. He wants what we want—everyone all together, One with God. He knows it will not be easy. But he wants us 🔥'd up with him. We can do this. We can give our all. We can work through the ÷ problems and build the Kingdom. Thank God Jesus is with us throughout it all.