UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, you created and sustain the world, yet you know me and lovingly provide for my every need. I thank you today.

Read LUKE 12:49-59

Not Peace but Division

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.”

Interpreting the Times

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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New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

‘God of grace and God of glory, / on your people pour your power … Grant us wisdom, / grant us courage / for the facing of this hour.’1

Think Further

How tragic that the gospel of peace should not bring peace but conflict. Inexorably, Jesus’ final journey takes him to Jerusalem. He knows well the ‘baptism’ (v 50) that awaits him: he will be plunged into torture and pain that will engulf him until death. He knows, too, that his followers will soon face their own baptisms of fire. Their choice to follow him will bring persecution, torture, and martyrdom; dividing family, community, and nation. Jesus wishes that the fire were already kindled. The gospel message that began with Jesus’ life and came to fruition with the resurrection still continues transforming lives two thousand years later. Somewhere today, Christians will die for their faith. Somewhere today, a church will be torched. Jesus was indeed born that there might be peace on earth, but it will not happen until he returns to establish the new world order. That we must still await, not sleeping but watching, eager for it but wise about the times we face.

Not yet at Jerusalem, Jesus speaks to a rural crowd, seemingly critical, as if addressing religious leaders. Those leaders will face judgment, but ordinary believers cannot afford complacency. Rural ag communities could predict the weather but the people, even though they had come to hear him, had not discerned the signs of ‘this present time’ (v 56). Perhaps they had not cared enough about the corruption of their religious leaders. Perhaps they had not discerned that the old religion needed to be renewed from within. Most seriously of all, they had not interpreted Jesus’ signs and words that he was the foretold Messiah and that God’s new kingdom was at hand. Today, church leaders can still err, but that does not excuse other Christians from complacency nor from the struggle to live the values of the kingdom.

Apply

May we have wisdom to discern right from wrong and to demonstrate the life of the kingdom to a desperate and suffering world.

Closing prayer

Lord God, there is so much uncertainty, corruption, and division in the world around me. Thank you for the peace and hope that is mine because of the gospel. Help me, that my life will be a clear testimony for all that is offered in Christ.

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by kingstar

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