7676 - Division

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Today we come to a passage in Luke 12 which brings surprise to many.

Ordinarily people think of Jesus as one who is the source of overwhelming love and unity — and he is.

But there is another facet to people’s response to the truth regarding Jesus. Of course, Jesus knew this and told his followers how some would react to His offer.

Listen to Luke 12:49-53:

49"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They 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."

In these words Jesus relates to his disciples a truth they needed to know. These were to be leaders in the infant Church, soon to be founded in Jerusalem during the Feast of Pentecost.

Pentecost introduced a new phenomenon — a new era in the relationship between God and man. For the first time since the fall of man the Holy Spirit would come and take up permanent residence in the inner being of every person who would yield their heart to the Lordship of Jesus. The Holy Spirit would never leave the heart of such a person.

In the old relationship the Holy Spirit could be placed within or upon a person for a special assignment, or during a limited period. The Holy Spirit could be removed or depart at the command of God. The sin of disobedience was frequently the cause of this departure.

In the age of the Church the Holy Spirit sticks with us. Sin in the life of a believer may grieve the Spirit and quench the power of His work, but He remains in residence to convict of sin and to woo such people back to obedient fellowship.

The indwelling Trinity changes a person’s interest, his habits. His very life takes on a new righteous foundation. As we are told in 2 Corinthians (5:17): “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new had come.”

Many people react to such a person. People who live in darkness are particularly antagonistic to these changes. Often there is rejection. But sometimes they are curious and ask, “What happened to you?” These are opportunities for the Christian to explain the good news of the gospel of Christ.

This seems to be the truth which Jesus is sharing with his followers in this passage. Division happens because light has no fellowship with darkness. Even within families this may occur. Father against son. Daughter against mother. Relationships are strained and sometimes ruptured.

Occasionally one person in a family comes face to face with the truth about Jesus bearing the penalty for sin, and offering an opportunity for any sinner to be reconciled to Holy God by faith in the work and person of Jesus. To a responsive, hungry heart this is thrilling news. They respond.

Then the contention starts in the family, but the glory of the changed, new life over a period of time brings another member of the family to accept the same grace and mercy as the first member. So then there are two new changed lives in the family. Perhaps the majority or perhaps the entire family follow suit and they are united in Christ.

But that may not be true of all members. Some of the people are going to reject and resist the new way of life. And Jesus warns of such possibilities in this passage.

Notice the distress Jesus faced at this time in His life on earth. How we are blessed in that although he was distressed, he never turned away from the cross — the very purpose for his life on earth.