Not Peace, but Trouble
49I came to set fire to the earth, and I wish it were already on fire! 50 I am going to be put to a hard test. And I will have to suffer a lot of pain until it is over. 51Do you think that I came to bring peace to earth? No indeed! I came to make people choose sides. 52A family of five will be divided, with two of them against the other three. 53 Fathers and sons will turn against one another, and mothers and daughters will do the same. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will also turn against each other.
Knowing What To Do
(Matthew 16.2,3; 5.25,26)
54Jesus said to all the people:
As soon as you see a cloud coming up in the west, you say, “It's going to rain,” and it does. 55When the south wind blows, you say, “It's going to get hot,” and it does. 56Are you trying to fool someone? You can predict the weather by looking at the earth and sky, but you don't really know what's going on right now. 57Why don't you understand the right thing to do? 58When someone accuses you of something, try to settle things before you are taken to court. If you don't, you will be dragged before the judge. Then the judge will hand you over to the jailer, and you will be locked up. 59You won't get out until you have paid the last cent you owe.
It is impossible to rest upon the fine edge of a sword and remain intact. The very purpose of a sword is to separate.
The claim that Christ came as the Son of God, was sentenced to death and rose to life by the power of God’s hand creates a point of division on which we must fall to one side or the other. We either acknowledge this or reject it. We worship him or dismiss the authority Christ commands in our lives.
To give Christ supremacy is to hold other loyalties very lightly. Though we are given many good gifts, ultimately we consider his kingdom call the most precious. When threatened with the loss of our earthly hopes we hold fast to our peace with God.
In this passage Jesus places the tip of a blade against the patriarchal structure of the day, challenging all that the Jewish people held dear – family, tribe and national identity. He calls for them to feel the fresh wind of the Spirit upon their faces, an invisible mystery that brings about a new reality. He calls us to the same.
Our lives, grafted in to the true Vine, will suffer a time of pruning in order to flourish. Our faith will be tested and God will not appear a friend. He will, however, take nothing from us that can ultimately save us, and he offers us the only lasting source of life. By placing our trust in him we abandon good things that will fail, and gain the best hope of all – a Father who will never leave us and a Brother who walks beside us to carry us home.
Heavenly Father, you are Lord of my life. In obedience I surrender my lesser loyalties. May I find peace with you of more value than allegiance to the world. Through Jesus, who fell upon the sword of judgement for me I pray. Amen.
Miriam Wickett works as an occupational therapist in the Greater Vancouver area but has thoroughly enjoyed being the author of daily online prayer compilations on her Blue Stone City site, and collaborating with Scripture Union Canada as a result. She shares a vision for the city with her community at Tenth Church, serving as the refugee support ministry co-ordinator, and spends summers as a volunteer camp director on beautiful Thetis Island, B.C.