Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.
Luke 12:35-56 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38 Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”
41 Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 44 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
54 And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. 55 And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?
Once again today we see one of the paradoxes of scripture and the kingdom of God. Christ tells us throughout scripture that we are to follow Him. Romans 12:18 says: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Hebrews 12:14 says: Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. In John 14:27 Jesus Himself says: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Yet in today’s text He says: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 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.” So if we are to follow Jesus should we seek peace, should we seek to unite or to divide? The two ideas seem to contradict each other. Let’s look more closely though and see how these verses agree, rather than how they contradict each other. First in Romans 12:18 it says: If possible, so far as it depends on you… Hebrews 12:14 says: Make every effort… So, both of these verses are instruction to us as believers. Neither one speaks to the result of our effort, but rather only to what our responsibility is as believers, followers of Christ. In John 14 Jesus is speaking of having His peace in the midst of the difficulties we face. Later, in that same dissertation, in John 15:18-27 He says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” Regardless of our effort, we may be hated, like Jesus, without cause.
Look again at what it says in Hebrews: Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Along with making every effort to live in peace, we are also to be holy. If we live in peace with others, but without holiness, they are not seeing the Lord who is Himself holy. In Leviticus 19:2 God says: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. What we see then and come to understand is that even as we live in peace with others, reflecting God’s holiness, we will cause division. Holiness causes them to see God. Seeing God causes them to know that there is sin. Jesus says that because He came and spoke to the world regarding sin and righteousness, that they no longer have an excuse for their sin. It is sin, being made aware of sinfulness, which causes then to hate Jesus. The division that Jesus causes is the division between sin and righteousness. For us we are to live at peace. We are also to live righteous, holy lives. Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) As we live righteously, as light before others, some will glorify God. Others, as Jesus says will hate us, even as they hate Jesus, without cause. The division and the hate is not something we are to bring to the world. It is not something we should glory in. It is though something we can and should expect. What is important is that if the world would hate us, if there would be division, we should make every effort, as far as it depends on us, it should be that they hate us without cause.
John 3:16, perhaps the most quoted verse in scripture regarding salvation through Christ says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus came because of love. In verses 17-21, He continues to say though: “ For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” We are not to judge. Neither should we be at odds with others and be the source of division and hatred. Like Jesus, we are to be holy, to live righteously as light. Some will glorify God, others will hate us because they love and choose darkness over light. There will be division, perhaps even as Jesus says, within families. We though, should make every effort, as far as it depends on us, to be at peace with everyone. If they hate us, may it be as they hated Jesus, without cause.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for Your word which never contradicts itself, but rather as it says in Hebrews 4:12: Is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. I choose to follow Jesus. I choose to live righteously, holy, as light to the world. I choose to make every effort to live at peace with everyone, yet I know that the light and righteousness of Christ will cause division. It will cause some to hate me, even as they hated You Jesus. But my hope is that some will see the good works, some will see the light and glorify You Father. If I would be the cause of any division or any hatred, may it be the division between light and darkness. May I live to follow Jesus and be His light and righteousness in the world. Amen.