49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 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.” Interpreting the Time 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 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? Settling with Your Opponent 57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
This is really two separate conversations Jesus had. The first with his disciples, the second with the large crowds that followed him. First to his disciples he prepares them for the reality they will soon encounter. Soon Jesus will undergo his ‘terrible baptism’, a baptism into death via the cross. Soon people will be divided about who Jesus is, particularly the Jews. Some will call him Lord, others will call him a liar and a lunatic. If his disciples were going to follow him, they needed to be aware of where he was headed. I don’t think they understood – I know I wouldn’t have.
Then, talking to the crowds, Jesus encourages them to wake up and look at the signs. I think he is referring to all the teaching and miracles he had performed, they were a sign to repent and turn back to God, before punishment comes.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, he doesn’t like division – nevertheless people are divided over him. Just as was the case then, Jesus is calling people through his church to find peace with God today, to find acceptance, forgiveness and love through faith in Jesus.
Lord, I thank you that you have made peace with me and I have found that peace in you, all because you sent Jesus to undergo a terrible baptism on my behalf. Thank you Lord, make me a sign to others that today is the day to make peace with you through Jesus.
Written by Andrew Mellor