August 23, 2019
Luke 12: 49-56
49[Jesus said:] “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52For from now on in one house there will be five divided, 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 her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
54He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
This is the reading from August 18, 2019 which was the 10th Sunday after Pentecost. It was a day of great celebration as it was a confirmation celebration for two people, but it was also a day of distress. The day before a twin-engine Cessna had just taken off and immediately crashed into a home of one of our members sister and brother-in-law. The brother in law as killed instantly while a niece suffered 3rd degree burns throughout her body. The church was therefore dealing with both the celebration for the two being confirmed and the suffering of one of our members for the loss of a brother-in-law and the severity of the burns on a niece.
It seemed strange to me that this was the passage for the day. In this text Jesus is addressing his baptism which should remind us of our own baptism. It is the baptism of the confirmed that was being renewed through the confirmation that took place this Sunday. With our baptism we have seen the old Adam within us killed and we were reborn with the righteousness of Christ. That righteousness is regularly renewed through confession and absolution. However, Jesus baptism was much different because he was baptized by John the Baptist who baptized for the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, Jesus took on our sin by his baptism. Since the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin had not taken place, Jesus was in distress knowing that he was to suffer death and because He had become sin for us, he would be forsaken by his Father on the cross. He admits his distress in this passage while wishing that the ordeal of his arrest and crucifixion was over. Can you even imagine the suffering when the Son of God, a member of the Trinity, is forsaken by his Father? No wonder his last words on the cross were (Matthew 22:46) “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet we are reminded by Paul that we too share in his death. Paul writes (Romans 6:3), “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
I will briefly describe the distress coming from the division Jesus also spoke about in this text. It is simply the distress that we also suffer by those who reject Christ. We know that in Christ we have peace. However, we do not have peace between us and those who have rejected Christ. This is also part of Jesus distress during his ministry.
We can take comfort in the fact that we are one with Christ. He suffers and has joy with us. This we know because he has admitted his own distress in this text. That means that as a church, when we have a day of great celebration along with the distress of one of our members, or our own distress, we know that Jesus also suffers with us. What a comfort to have had this text on a day when it was needed.