Passage: Luke 12:49–12:53
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 12:49-53
Date: August 14th, 2016
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
One of the main themes in the Gospel of St. Luke is peace.
Upon Jesus’ birth, we hear of the angel and multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).
After Simeon saw God’s promise of salvation fulfilled in the infant Jesus at the temple, he departed in peace (Luke 2:29).
Jesus instructed his disciples when he sent them out, “Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be to this house!” (Luke 10:5).
Jesus healed people and then often dismissed them with the words, “Go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
Peace is a main theme in the Gospel of St. Luke and is an important part of Jesus’ message.
That’s why our Gospel reading for this morning is so surprising.
Jesus said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
He then described the depth of the division that he brings, “For from now on in one house there will be five 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.”
The prophet Isaiah called Jesus the “Prince of Peace”.
How can it be, then, that the Prince of Peace has come to bring division?
Well, consider our society today. Our culture of tolerance and acceptance.
We are told to accept and tolerate all behaviours, all views, all beliefs.
Everyone is right, there is no wrong. You decide what’s right and true for you and run with it. Let’s all just hold hands and get along.
Don’t you dare challenge my views or behaviour! Don’t you dare have a strong stance! That’s offensive!
In our culture of tolerance and acceptance you can believe and do whatever you want - well, with the exception of standing up for what is true and right.
Then you're just being hateful and divisive.
And being divisive is one of the few things that our society won’t tolerate and accept.
And so, it’s very difficult and uncomfortable to hear Jesus say that he has come to give, not peace, but division. Even division among households and families.
To understand this more clearly, we will remind ourselves of who Jesus is.
We read in 1 John, “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
Jesus says in the Gospel of St. John, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The Bible reveals to us that Jesus is God in the flesh, he is the life, and he is the truth.
We also learn from 1 John that God is love (1 John 4:8).
There are some who have the misconception that God’s love is the same as God’s acceptance. God’s love equals acceptance.
So believe anything you want, do anything you want, Jesus accepts you.
But does that view properly reflect what we find in the Bible?
Jesus didn’t accept false teaching. He called false teachers a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 12:34).
He didn’t accept all behaviour. He flipped the tables of money changers who had turned his Father’s Temple into a shopping mall (Matthew 21:12).
Our Lord was never afraid to stand up for the truth or for what is right or wrong. Even when it meant that he would suffer and die as a result.
Our Christian faith is going to result in division - probably among our friends and even members of our family.
To confess Christ is to confess the truth.
That means that we may have to tell others that what they believe is false.
God wants us to live in a certain way, according to his will. The Bible reveals what is right and wrong.
That means that we may have to tell others that their actions are sinful and wrong.
This may lead to division. This probably will lead to division.
But although the One who is the Way, Truth, and Life leads to division, it is important to know that Jesus is not the source of division. Our sin is to blame for that.
In fact, it is only in Christ Jesus that unity is found. Only in Christ can we be one.
Those who reject God, those who reject truth, are the cause of division.
And it’s interesting to note that our society is trying to bring about peace by tolerating and accepting everything while denying that truth even exist.
But there can be no real peace without truth.
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31).
Our sinful nature despises the truth because the truth is we can’t do whatever we want whenever we want.
The truth is we are sinners.
The truth is we deserve God’s wrath and eternal death.
The truth is there is nothing we can do on our own to save ourselves from our sin and death.
The truth is terrifying and we would rather deny it.
But, ignoring the truth does not make it go away.
Ignoring the truth is the most dangerous thing we can do.
You see, when we ignore the truth of our sin - we also ignore the truth of the Gospel.
The truth of the Gospel is that God has saved you from sin and death.
Jesus, God in the flesh, lived the perfect sinless life for you.
He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for you so that you will not suffer the punishment that your sin deserves.
Jesus died on the cross, but he did not remain dead.
When his friends went to the tomb to finish burying him properly, his body was not there.
Then, for forty days he showed himself to hundreds of people who touched him, spoke with him, ate with him, and witnessed his miracles.
Jesus has earned for you the forgiveness of all your sins and he has promised you victory over death. He has promised you eternal life.
This is the Gospel truth.
God has brought you to faith in this truth. Jesus is the founder and perfecter of your faith.
Some will label you as divisive, narrow-minded, and maybe even hateful for believing and confessing the truth of Christ.
Jesus warns us that unity with God will cause division with the world.
This is part of running with endurance the race that is set before us.
But Jesus gives us hope against these divisions.
We look forward with certain hope to the life to come when all divisions will cease and we will be forever one.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.