"From the Pulpit" - August 14th, 2022 - Reflections on the Weekly Texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church
Jesus delivers harsh words about the purifying and potentially divisive effects of obedience to God’s call. The way of the cross often leads followers to encounter hostility and rejection, even from those they love.
[Jesus said:] 49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 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.” 54 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. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 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?”
Ouch! Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ...I think! This is definitely not your gentle Jesus meek and mild, is it? The prince of peace, coming to bring division?! What's up with that?
What is the gospel writer trying to say here? Why is Jesus so upset? Mad even? I think of that old Roberta Flack song from the early '70's, with Donnie Hathaway, "Where is the Love?" Remember that song? Check it out on YouTube.
This hostile and hate filled world is the world into which Jesus is born, and the world he has come to save. Save for everyone! And there is the rub. Everyone. Not everyone is happy about the good news Jesus brings - news of forgiveness, healing of the sick and lame, respect for the widow and orphan, the prostitute, the tax collector. So introducing the love of God to those who wielded the power at the time would have been very divisive. Think of the protests of the '60's, where the younger generation rebelled against the older generation. This is sort of what Jesus' world was like then.
So if we see the ministry of Jesus as one of bringing a word of hope to those on the outside of society, we can see conflict beginning to brew. Ushering in this new kingdom of God was not going to be easy, and Jesus knew it. There was a lot that had to be undone (hatred; division; etc.) before the kingdom could enter in.
And so my message on Sunday will focus on this "conflict" between the good news of the gospel, and the way the world then and now sees and hears this "good news". We all see it differently depending on where we sit at the time. Are we the ones in power who are most likely to be offended at the good news? Are we the ones at the bottom of the social rung who see Jesus as their way out of oppression and exclusion?
Join us tomorrow or any Sunday as we gather around Word and Sacrament to hear the good news of Jesus.
Amen. Thanks be to God.
"God be the Love to Search and Keep Me"
"Eternal Father, Strong to Save"
"Lord be Glorified"