Posted on Sun, Aug 18, 2013
August 18, 2013
13th Sunday after Pentecost – “Jesus felt your Stress”
Gospel Text: Luke 12:49-56
49 ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on, five in one household will be divided, 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 her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
54 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. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. 56 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?
Have you ever read all of Luke chapter 12? There is a ton of stuff that Jesus is forced to deal with! From the beginning, “thousands of people were crowding him,” then he warns them of who they really need to fear, then he attacks the religious leaders, the Pharisee’s, calling them “hypocrites,” then he warns them of who they really need to fear yet reminding them they are much more valuable than the sparrows, one guy tries to triangulate Jesus into fixing his family inheritance problem, then the people seem so troubled with petty things and Jesus has to remind them that God has clothed them, fed them and has even sent God’s Son, the Messiah, to redeem them, and they really don’t have to worry! Jesus reassures them by saying, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Then, it seems that Jesus’ patience is beginning to give way to these disciples and followers that have witnessed everything Jesus has said and done, yet they still need more, instruction, examples or whatever… Jesus is reduced to telling them, they just need to be ready to see and meet God at anytime (and we spoke about that last week) and DON’T JUDGE. They are not the ones to judge.
They have no right to judge each other, as not a one accept the Roman Centurion, seems have listened to Jesus with ears of faith, or watched Jesus with eyes of faith
Due to pride, fear, or the need to just be able to control everything, including our relationship with God and eternal future, they refuse to see or hear what Jesus has been teaching them… that is why today’s “GOOD NEWS” are words that convict each and everyone of us.
Remember how uncomfortable we felt when we heard John the Baptist say when he speaking about the Messiah who was about to come onto the scene? “He will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’” (Mt. 3:11-12).
Well, here is Jesus sounding a little fed up with those who should understand what Jesus has been preaching for so long, AND they should be able to demonstrate the faith that has been given them, yet all they seem to want to do is justify their actions, petty attitudes and self-created relational problems. He seems to wish he had that “winnowing fork” right now. If Jesus sounds a little frustrated and maybe even angry, give him a break; remember he took on this human body, and frustration is a feeling we seem to either disdain or thrive on…
Two issues from this text, do the teachings of Jesus really bring about peace? Was Jesus born into a peaceful time in human history?
“Peace” did not exactly follow Jesus around as he journeyed about… accept when his words or actions opened they eyes of the person Jesus was speaking to see or hear in faith. Think about the blind man, the man exorcised of demons, the woman at the well…
But what happened the first time he read from the prophet Isaiah, and He began to let the people of his very own village know that in their hearing the text read by HIM (their very own village son)? His neighbors tried to kill him… it didn’t get much better from that time on… and then his ministry, as such, only ended with him giving up his life on the cross…
At our last colleagues meeting all the pastors where chatting about traveling and how much we hate it when the person sitting next to us on a long flight asks us that natural question, “So, what do you do for a living?” Once that question is innocently asked, the chances of us having a “peaceful” flight fall dramatically. If we tell them that we are pastors the person begin talking nonstop about how bad they feel about missing church on Sundays… It is almost as if they were just begging for absolution from me… I suppose in these situations I should just strap on my collar and immediately give them absolution if I am going to have any chance for a quiet flight.
Does the message of Jesus bring peace into families? According to some of our Television preachers, if we all just do everything they tell us to do and buy their books we will all live in perfect Christian harmony much like a family of Precious Moments figurines; then our lives will be filled with perfect sublime peace…
But Jesus didn’t say what we wanted to hear, Jesus was speaking the truth even when it hurt; and notice in today’s text he was keeping he comments within the parameters of a family.
What is that saying when a family gathers for a reunion? “There are three things we are never to talk about at the table, sex, politics and religion.”
Even I remember the Vietnam War. I was born in 1961, but I still have vivid images watching video of the carnage in Vietnam every night and the words of Walter Cronkite informing us about the “daily casualty numbers” as if it was like a baseball box score… I can still also hear the pained words of my sister who is ten years older than me, asking why our country had to be at war in that far away country? She lost several friends from our local high school and none of her generation could rationalize why it her friends that were being forced to go to that country to die… Her words came from her heart and they were filled with passion and pain.
My father on the other hand, who lost friends to WW2 and probably Korea, his brother, my uncle served in Guadalcanal and eventually guarded Hideki Tojo at Sugamo Prison in Tokyo after the war, had a very different opinion about the war from my sister. And he two was speaking from the heart, and he was just as passionate about his opinion and filled with pain about the situation.
This scenario played itself out in homes all around the world back in the late 60’s.
Arguments based out of stubborn opinion or immovable conviction, or even from a spiritual understanding we feel is unquestionable; will tear all kinds of people apart.
But we still do find justification to fight, or at least demand that our position is the more superior one, and therefore we should be considered above or superior to the one we are in conflict with.
This example is seen over and over again, causing some family members to never speak to a brother or sister for the rest of their lives, or until they finally have a change of heart, or a moment of humility understand that if they are going to live in peace, one of the two must begin the healing by saying, “I am sorry.”
This isn’t rocket science. We all understand this is true from an emotional or even psychological level… But this will only become reality, IF, we can make the very courageous decision to go through life with a HUMBLE heart.
The need to be humble and compassionate when listening to another person. It is as natural as knowing that when the Kona winds blow, the weather will be hot and uncomfortable. The truth that if we are going to live in harmony, we will truly need to “walk in the shoes of the person,” is as natural as knowing that when November rolls around the whales will not be far behind.
Another point, if we fail to have a humble heart and demand that only our opinion or position is correct, who do we make ourselves out to be? When we think we know everything, at that moment we make ourselves like a god. We put ourselves above the teachings and commands of Jesus.
Jesus is on the road to the cross and he is living in one of the most stressful and dangerous times in human history, did he bring peace to Palestine at that time in history? I don’t think so, the temple will be burned and torn down in just 70 years, wars, greed, and the pursuit of so-called ultimate power would continue until today…
But what peace did Jesus bring? Knowing that when we feel stress, we know Jesus experienced the same thing. Knowing that life and salvation is not about our understanding, or even our spirituality, it is totally determined by this carpenter from Nazareth who came to us as the ultimate Servant King to give His life for us. Not a king that demanded blind obedience, but only that we, “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.”
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