Jesus said, "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five 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 her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
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. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. 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?"
The past and the present walk into a room, it was tense.
Really, what do you do when you come to a point in time when the past and the present collide, that is what I would like to talk about today? Jesus talks about bringing fire to the earth and wishing that it was already kindled. Why fire? What emotions does the word fire evoke? I’m left with a sense of urgency, passion, also since I have been here I have seen two different fires so Ive seen first hand, as im sure you all have, the destructive capability that fire possesses, but I also know that fire can be used to create something new. In the first lesson today Jesus asks, is not my word like fire? So again Jesus makes an allusion to fire, why? Is it because it enlightens, warms, and penetrates every part. When Jesus’ word is communicated to a true witness, it is like a fire shut up in the bones; you can not retain it, you’ve got to broadcast it: and when you speak it, it is like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces; it is ever accompanied by a Divine power, that causes both sinner and saint to feel its weight and importance.
Jesus goes on to say how he wishes that that fire were already kindled. What does that mean? What kindles the fire that Jesus brings? I think the answer to that question is, us. Jesus is wishing for people to be a witness to his glory, to the fire that he has brought and continues to bring.
So what happens when the present meets the past?
Jesus says that we use our past experiences when we look to the skies, and when we feel the winds, and what do we do with these insights? We give weather forecasts. Of all things, this is where we put our attentions. In places that in the grand scheme of things don’t matter Instead of what actually matters, being the kindle to Jesus’ fire. And he says it, 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?
What happens when the present meets the past?
Jesus says do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. He said it way back then, that is what his name, his spirit, his presence on Earth would do.
What happens when the present meets the past?
How many wars have been fought for the namesake of Jesus? And Im not talking about wars like the Crusades or Western Expansion, or Colonialism. How many wars have we personally fought trying to tell someone who Jesus was, or rather who he is? I cannot begin to tell you how many debates I have been apart of because of Jesus. Whether it may be with another person of our faith discussing opposing interpretations of a text. It seems like every time my dad and I get together we sit and go back and forth for hours upon hours about the church and tradition and what’s the point or how he read a particular text as something while I interpreted it and found another meaning.
But maybe this is what Jesus meant when he talked about kindle to his fire.
At first glance I think of these things as being, negative. Not coming to bring peace to the world, but rather to cause division. If I may pose a question, does this division not kindle his fire? Jesus is not a but or, Jesus is an also and. I think the allusion of fire is used because fire engulfs all. It doesn’t pick and choose, I like this branch but not that bush or this tree but not that house, I know the people that live there, so not that house. Please believe that when there is a fire it burns everything, not some things but everything. I think this is the same way that the words of Jesus spread. Like a wildfire. And our division, our debate our witness adds to this fire because he is at the center of it all. Not our superficial thoughts that jump from one insignificant thing to another. That change with the blowing of the wind. I think that was the point of what Jesus meant in these passages today.
So what happens when the present meets the past? It gets tense. Amen