“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! From now on five 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 her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12: 49- 53)
I have heard a good many people speak on and about this passage, and similar ones in the gospels. It is a provocative and distressing passage, in that it confirms division and disunity. But as Barnes explains it, Jesus is saying this based on the human heart, not that the Lord Jesus desires division and discord; but that the human (meaning humanity’s) heart will find reason and cause to separate themselves over issues of theology. And it is true; there is great disunity, discord, and all other manner of separateness among us. And that it is not just among nations/countries, or even within countries, states, areas or neighborhoods – but within families! Furthermore, Barnes interprets Jesus’ words, Jesus wishes it would be over and done, because the divisions will be so painful. Whoever and whatever other interpretations and understandings there might be, my spirit and soul finds peace and acceptance of this understanding.
“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. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.” (Verses 54 – 55)
We can all, or we believe we can, read the signs of weather change and predict what will happen – global climate change notwithstanding. We may disagree on the whys and the outcomes, but we agree on the basics. Rain is rain, snow is snow; dry weather, hot weather – we know and understand it. Where we divide and disagree, just as there is division over faith systems, is what the future holds based on the events of the present times.
“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?” (Verse 56)
What does it mean that this nation is doing such, and that country seems to be going this way. Geopolitics, political scient, diplomacy and other such terms and studies do not seem to have stopped wars, world wars, skirmishes, and the trickledown of violence, hatred, racism, and prejudice. In fact, things seem to be getting worse.
And if you say, beloved reader, I don’t know what is coming! I can’t see or predict what may be in store of nations and countries, and humanity – I would agree with you . . . . . in a way. But any one can see and should see that violence and hatred among members of humaity will lead to what, well, what it has lead to. I do not know how deeply and intensely Jesus expected his listeners to read the “sign of the times.” It just seems to me that if you hear more about hatred and violence, abuse of people, and all the horrific news that abounds . . . you should not be surprised at what happens. As to the solution, each person must search their own heart, soul, and spirit. And pray. Selah!