“I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”Luke 12:49-53
This is a very difficult passage. There are lots of elements that are not clear. Once we have nailed the meaning of each of the elements, we have to sort out the meaning of the unit as a whole. Take some time to read through it and think about it for yourself. Not only is it difficult to understand, it deals with a heavy topic that we don’t want to hear in the mouth of “gentle Jesus meek and mild”.
Jesus tells us He came to bring a firebrand. To throw fire down on the earth. What does that mean?
The scholars are divided on what this means symbolically. Sure we understand “fire”, but what is its meaning in this context?
The options are:
- Fire is a symbol of God’s judgement on believers
- Fire is a symbol of the purification of believers
- Fire is a symbol of division, according to the following verses.
- Fire is symbol of faith or spiritual fervour.
- Fire is linked to the effect of the cross.
There is another problem here and that is “how I wish it were already kindled”. What does that mean?
I will leave you at this point to ponder these questions and the meaning of these segments. We need to work out the pieces before we can put the whole picture together.
I thought Gem 769 may help with the current discussion.
More tomorrow once you have had a chance to think it over.
Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.Terry Pratchett
It’s not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind and the earthquake.Frederick Douglass
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.Ferdinand Foch