Jesus Revealing His Heart’s Desire: A Look At His Heart in Luke 12:49-53

Posted: March 12, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 12:49-53 — Often in small groups, and if your life group has any depth to it at all, there are those breakthrough moments. It is usually those moments when the leader reveals his humanity to his small group. When the leader reveals his daily struggles with sin. When the leader reveals those flaws in his character that he constantly needs prayer for. This is when the leader reveals his humanness. It is the moment that the group sees that it is OK to be real in life group. Then when one of the group is struggling with something they can be real about it too. By the leader’s example, we come to these awesome moments when one of the group members just lays it all out there. We all grow in those moments. This passage today is where Jesus, though He has no flaws, reveals what He wishes were true but admits to the reality of the situation. From this passage, where Jesus reveals his humanness about what He wishes were true, it makes me love Him more.

This passage seems almost opposite of the Jesus that we have created in our world today to make Him more palatable to a world that does not know Him. We have often made Jesus into a flower child today who speaks only of love, peace, and harmony. This passage does not square with that very well, does it? What is Jesus saying here? He talks about fire and division. Families set against one another. He says He has come to divide people against one another. This certainly not what we would call the Jesus of peace-love-dove.

What is this fire that Jesus speaks of? Throughout the New Testament, the Holy Spirit was compared to or seen as fire. Fire consumes all that is in its path and changes its form. The Holy Spirit is seen then as consuming us when He enters us. He changes us through its burning path through our soul. He changes us from the inside out. He makes us into a new creation that is different from what we were before we accepted Christ as our Savior. Jesus is saying here that He came to bring the Holy Spirit to us directly and He wished that the whole world were already burning. He wishes that the whole world were already consumed by the Holy Spirit. He wishes that the whole world had already accepted Him as their Savior. That would make his death on the cross unnecessary.

He says that He has a terrible baptism ahead of him. It is a heavy burden that He must bear until it is accomplished. Baptism is symbolic of what our lives are like. Baptism is symbolic of the inward change in us that has already occurred at salvation. When we stand in the baptismal pool, we are our old selves. When we go down into the water it is like death. It is the death of our old selves. We are dying to our old sinful self and the burden of the penalty of the law. While we are down in the water, we leave our sins and our old self in the water. When we come up out of the water, we have conquered death and sin. We are a new creation. Jesus suffered a baptism for us. He took our sins to the cross and gathered all of our sins that we all in human history have committed and will commit and became those things. Since He was perfect He could do so. He became sin and suffered God’s wrath there on the cross. He died and carried our sins into the grave. He arose from the grave and was victorious over sin and death.

Jesus shows us His human side here. Jesus was dreading the physical pain but even worse He was dreading those moments on the cross where He was going to be separated from God as He was going to become sin itself. He did not want to be separated from God. The Father-Son-Holy Spirit had never been separated. This separation was necessary to end the separation of God and man that started back at the Garden of Eden.

Having said all these things then Jesus says some things that seem all most completely opposite of the Jesus that we seem to know from the rest of the New Testament. We all love the parts of the gospel where Jesus speaks of love and reconciliation. But, he also speaks of the cost of following Him. Just as He paid the ultimate cost to give us the right to be reconciled to God, there is often a cost to following Jesus. He spoke of the cost of following Him as often as He did about the joys of reconciliation to God through Him. Jesus seems to be wishing here what He is about to say were not true but that it is a reality that it is not.

Because we live in a fallen world, Jesus causes a reaction from us. There is no middle ground with Jesus. Jesus by the nature of being the Son of God, God in the flesh is going to cause a reaction in us as humans. No matter who you are you either accept Him as the Son of God who came to die for our sins and restore us to the Father or you do not. This is what He meant by setting fathers against sons, mothers against daughters, and so on. You see it play out in reality in families today. Some believe some don’t. Jesus wishes in this passage that it were not true but it is reality. Jesus was being real about the world and its reaction to Him. Sometimes we are ridiculed for following Jesus by our own family members. Jesus causes a reaction in us either for Him or against Him. Seeing Him as anything less than the Son of God is not seeing Jesus rightly. Jesus requires a reaction. There is no middle ground. That is why every man-made religion has a position on Jesus to justify the purpose of their religion. Islam has a position on Jesus. Judaism has a position on Jesus. Hinduism has a position on Jesus. All the minor religions have a position on Jesus. This is the brother against brother that Jesus speaks of here. Jesus wishes this were not true but it is the reality of life.

Either you accept Jesus Christ as the only one true way to the Father or you don’t. Either you accept Jesus as the Son of God, God in the flesh or you don’t. No middle ground. The reality is that we wish this were not true. We wish that all would come to Christ for He is what He says He is. We wish all were already on fire for Him. We wish the whole world were consumed by the Holy Spirit as Jesus says. But the reality is that it is not. The reality is that we must take the gospel to the world. The reality is that we must share out story of salvation through Jesus Christ with others. We must help them open the blinders that they have on their eyes. We must tell them that Jesus really and truly is the only way. Let us be heartbroken that the world is not already there. Let us be emboldened to carry the gospel to every single person on the planet so that the whole world is already on fire as is Jesus’ desire.

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