49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? 57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the 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