I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law…
Have you heard the story about Jesus’ birth and how the angels came to celebrate it? In Luke 2:13-14 we read, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared . . . praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”
But in our reading today we find Jesus himself asking, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?” And he answers, “No, I tell you, but division.”
Here Jesus is prodding his followers to think; he wants them to consider carefully what it means to commit their lives to him. As we think about this, Jesus does seem to bring division. That’s because the good news of salvation and the rule of God’s kingdom will bring resistance in this world. Sadly, there will be some people who do not want to believe in God and do not want their hearts changed. Here Jesus warns of family divisions, and many of us know how those can happen because of belief in Jesus.
Jesus warns what will happen, not what he wills to happen. As we experience the love of God in Christ, from which nothing and no one can separate us (Romans 8:38-39), all other relationships take second place. In Jesus we find that we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-8); through Christ, God’s favor rests on us. Do you know Jesus? Then you know that peace.
Rest in His peace today so that we might help others find peace with Him too in this troubled world.