Understanding the Times (Luke 12:49-59)

Story 1 – Probably most of us have extended family situations where we find ourselves in very different “faith camps” regarding Jesus Christ, the Scriptures and objective truth etc. And it is likely true that we also find our relationships with those who reject our confidence in both the written and living Word to be often rather difficult. That difference constitutes two different worldviews, so it should not really be surprising to us.

Story 2 – One of my enduring memories of living in Texas for five years is the weather. No, not so much the summer heat; I’m talking rather about the manner in which the weather conditions could very suddenly become very, very violent. There would be blue sky overhead, with a wall of dark clouds rolling in. Moments later, the street lights would come on at midday, the wind would pick up, and it was time to get to the basement or a middle room.

Story 3 – Being a defendant in court is not a pleasant experience. You want to be sure to not be a guilty defendant. So, if you truly owe something, wisdom should drive your every effort to pay that debt and make the situation right before the judge deals with you in the harshest terms.

Let’s tie these three stories together with the three paragraphs in today’s reading.

Jesus taught that the reality of his coming would be that some will reject him while others believed in who he was. This was to be expected. Even families would be divided over this issue. That remains a truth to this day.

In Israel, west winds brought moist conditions from the Mediterranean, whereas south winds brought dry desert air. People knew what was coming by the direction of the winds. They should likewise be able to read the atmosphere of the day. Jesus was among them as the promised messiah. They should recognize this “wind condition” and accept him, though most were foolishly rejecting the obvious truth in front of them. This remains a truth to this day.

If it is wise to not ignore a situation that puts you into a perilous position before a human judge, how much riskier is it to ignore the judge of the universe? The Jewish people were not getting right with God. It is like having an increasingly loud knocking sound in the engine of your car, to which you respond by increasingly turning up the volume of the radio.

Understanding that truth divides, rightly understanding the times, and getting right with God – seems obvious, yet most people in all generations fail to see and do the correct thing.

Luke 12:49 – “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.”

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

1 thought on “Understanding the Times (Luke 12:49-59)

  1. “Understanding that truth divides, rightly understanding the times, and getting right with God – seems obvious, yet most people in all generations fail to see and do the correct thing.”

    And with humility we might add that all of us fail to do this perfectly. In a parable Jesus quoted a certain flawed person “a tax collector” as saying “God have mercy on me — a sinner.”

    Jesus in another parable related that a land owner was told that the wheat he planted was growing in the field, but also somethings not desirable were also growing.

    This landowner concluded that it was not possible in the current state of affairs to remove the problem weeds.

    We all have some problems in our lives. James says “we all stumble in many ways.”

    Often I want to “do” something. However we also need to “do” what Paul said to “do” which is pray. Paul wanted us to pray for all the saints. He focused on prayers that God would grant grace and spiritual understanding and love and spiritual growth in the lives of the congregations of the saints.

    I can’t help but recollect that you stated something about the difficulty you had as a kid in getting other kids to come to church. (Now I’m fuzzy on the details of what you wrote … particularly I don’t remember if you invited them but they were judged for there dress or lack of enthusiasm for the older songs … or if you didn’t invite them because you knew they would not be welcomed and would have been judged.

    Paul said something to the Corinthians. If everyone who attended their gatherings had brought spiritually valuable material to share to church … then Paul concluded that visitors would have been very impressed and concluded that God was truly working in that congregation.

    Is that a tall order though for today? Paul’s saying that we each have something worth saying to each other to build each other up spiritually when we gather together?

    This is really difficult for many in today’s generation if we haven’t grown in up a culture that does this.

    Also we are warned by scripture that our over-reliance on our stuff (or our wealth) makes us so self-sufficient that perhaps it is not cool to even talk about God at Church. One church in the book of Revelation thought they were full and didn’t need anything.

    Somewhere around chapter 30 (plus or minus a chapter) in the book of Proverbs someone asked God to give him “neither poverty nor riches.” He felt that if he had too little he might somehow disgrace God with his self-concern by doing something like stealing. He was also worried that if he was too comfortable his attitude would be “Who is the Lord?” since complacency and self-sufficiency would have taken hold of him.

    So, I should reflect on my own comment and think “show love and pray and pray and show love.”

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