Division and Discernment

Posted: May 21, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 12:49-59, “Division & Discernment”

For all that people know about Jesus, there are still times He can surprise us.  Some of what Jesus says in this text seems so much the opposite of what we generally think of Him.  Jesus will bring fire and division?!  Jesus calls the multitudes (rather than the Pharisees) hypocrites?!  Whatever happened to the meek & mild Jesus?  Whatever happened to the gracious, forgiving Jesus?

He hasn’t gone anywhere.  This is all still Him.  Remember that Jesus isn’t one-dimensional.  Just because He showed grace to the lost, openly invited people to come to Him in faith, and offered the forgiveness of God to the unlovable (and more!) doesn’t mean that it was out of character for Jesus to proclaim God’s judgment.  This isn’t evidence of a split-personality; it is simply a fuller picture of our Lord.

Besides, who says warnings of judgment are unloving?  If a friend screams at you to get out of the road, it’s not because he hates you; it’s because he loves you & doesn’t want to see you flattened by a Mack truck hurtling down the street.  If God warns us of His judgment, it’s because He doesn’t want us to experience it.  He loves us, and wants us to be ready for that day.

That was the case here.  Some of the things said by Jesus may seem harsh, but they are necessary for us to know.  There were all kinds of people following Him around, but they hadn’t yet come to faith.  They were in the presence of Jesus, witnessed the miracles of Jesus, but had not yet discerned who He was.  It was time for a wake-up call, and that is exactly what Jesus provided.

Contextually, Luke had been writing about Jesus among the multitudes, in the process of His trip to Jerusalem.  He had encountered all kinds of issues with Pharisees along the way, calling them out for their hypocrisy & warning them (along with everyone else) of the need to be ready for the judgment of God.  All people will be called to give an account to our Creator, and we need to be ready for that day.  We trust Him & His provision for us, but we always keep our judgment in mind, in order to be ready.

It’s with all that said that Jesus says what might seem to be surprising things.  Actually, they shouldn’t be surprising at all.  If we need to be ready for judgment, then it’s only right for Jesus to speak of the urgency of it.  We’ll need to prioritize our lives regarding the things that truly matter, which might include some uncomfortable division along the way.  But most of all, we just need to do what it take to be ready.  There’s nothing more important that we will face then when we look Jesus in the eye.  Be wise & be ready!

Luke 12:49–59

  • Division guaranteed (49-53)

49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!

  • There is a “fire” and a “baptism.”  This isn’t necessarily (or likely) a reference to the baptism of fire, as John the Baptist prophesied of Jesus. (Mt 3:11)  These are two different & distinct events, though linked together by the work of Jesus.
  • First, Jesus “came to send fire on the earth.”  What kind of fire?  Fire can be symbolic of several things: holiness, God’s work of purification, etc. – but it is probably most often refers to judgment.  Fire was essential to the Hebrew offerings made to the Lord – the day of the Lord is described as a day of fire – Hell is described as having a lake of fire – Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed by fire & brimstone, etc.  So Jesus says that He came to bring the fire of judgment upon the earth, and He wished that it had already begun.
    • Question #1: How is this reconciled with John 3:17, where it is said that the Son was not sent to condemn the world?  Simple: this is the difference between the 1st and 2nd Advents.  The first time Jesus came to the world, it was to offer grace, forgiveness, and salvation.  The second time Jesus comes, it will be to bring judgment & wrath, as the fullness of His kingdom is seen upon the earth.  This is a crucial distinction in Jesus’ ministry, and it will be seen again in vs. 51.
    • Question #2: If this is indeed a reference to the judgment of God at Jesus’ 2nd Coming, why was Jesus so eager to see it already kindled & underway?  Didn’t Jesus want to see people get saved?  Of course!  God’s desire is for none to perish, but for all to come to repentance, which is one reason why Jesus had not returned already. (2 Pet 3:9)  Jesus most certainly wants people to be saved!  (All people…even you!)  That said, the Son of God still wants to see the eternal plan of God fulfilled.  The sooner His judgment comes, the sooner we move to the kingdom, and then to the eternal state.  The sooner His judgment comes, the sooner it will be that every creature in heaven & on earth sees Him as God & glorifies Him as such.  We should want to see that day soon!  Marantha!  Come, Lord Jesus!
      • But it means we ought to be ready!  That’s the point that Jesus will drive home.
  • Second, Jesus also had a “baptism to be baptized with,” something else He was determined to see done.  Many English translations use the language of being “distressed,” which can possibly give the wrong impression.  It wasn’t that Jesus was overly stressed out about this, dreading the moment until it happened.  The word speaks of seizing, grabbing hold of, constraining, controlling.  It could be said (especially in context) that Jesus was consumed with this coming baptism.  This was the thought that held His holy attention.  This was His singular focus.
  • What was it?  The cross.  This baptism was not a baptism of water.  That, He had already received through the ministry of John the Baptist at the outset of His ministry.  This was a baptism of suffering.  Jesus spoke of this baptism to James & John, as their mother tried to jockey for their prominent position in Jesus’ future kingdom.  He asked them if they were able to be baptized with the baptism that He was about to receive. (Mt 20:22)  They lied, saying yes, not really having a clue as to what would be involved.  Jesus affirmed that they would indeed suffer, but all of this only served to emphasize the servant role of Jesus.  Yes, He is the King, but He was about to suffer tremendously – for their sakes, and for ours. … But this was His baptism.  It was a cup of suffering at the cross, and He endured it willingly for you & me.
  • Like the fire, He wanted it done.  He was constrained by it until it was accomplished / completed / finished.  It would be!  What was it that Jesus declared from the cross?  “It is finished!” τετελεσται – the same root word used here (τελέω).  Jesus wasn’t going to stop until the work was done, and He did it.  The work of salvation is finished – guaranteed by the suffering & sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • What does this mean for us?  There is no more to do!  After you put your faith & trust in Jesus as the Son of God for the forgiveness of sins, you can’t make yourself any more saved than you already are.  You cannot add to your spiritual birth – you cannot make yourself any more a child of God than what Jesus already did.  It is finished!  Obviously, this doesn’t leave us an excuse to do nothing – we never come to a point in this life of sinless perfection.  We still strive to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called.  But the work of justification is done!  Jesus has made us right in the sight of God, and not a single thing we do can change or add to that.  So…stop trying to save yourself!  If you trust Christ, then trust Him.  Rely upon Him & His work to save you.  He is the one who justifies us, so we can stop trying to justify ourselves.

51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.

  • This sounds strange!  How can Jesus say that He did not come to “give peace on earth”?  Isaiah prophetically called Him the “Prince of Peace,” (Isa 9:6) – the angels announced His birth with a proclamation of peace (Lk 2:14) – Paul writes how Jesus is our peace, reconciling Jew & Gentile into one Church body & also reconciling the Church to God (Eph 2:14-17).  A huge part of Jesus’ ministry is to grant us peace where we had none.  We were at enmity against God (Rom 8:7), but now we have been reconciled, given grace & peace through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So again: how can Jesus claim He did not come to “give peace”?  Answer: it all depends on what type of peace is in mind.  Between God & man, Jesus certainly gives peace.  In fact, apart from faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, we have no other way to be made at peace with God.  He is our only hope.  Also, between Jew & Gentile in the Church, again, Jesus gives peace.  Only in Christ can former enemies be made brothers & sisters.  Rich & poor, slave & free, male & female, we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28), because He creates peace and a loving bond between us.
  • What Jesus does not give is earthly peace…at least, not yet.  Earthly peace was not Jesus’ mission at His first coming, though it was what many expected of Him.  At that time, Jesus did not come to set up an earthly kingdom & establish a worldwide peace.  But He will!  When Jesus comes back, that is exactly what He will do!  Jesus will be given all the nations as an inheritance, and they will serve Him as He rules over them. (Ps 2:8)  During that time, the peace of Christ will be so tangible that even wolves and lambs will feed together in quietness. (Isa 65:25)  Satan will be imprisoned for 1000 years (Rev 20:2-3), and for the first time since the Garden of Eden, there will be true peace on earth.  It will be glorious, tangible peace!
    • But that’s all future; it isn’t today.  We need to be careful to remember which of Jesus’ promises are for today, and which are for the future.  Those who come to faith in Christ expecting Him to make their current lives better in the present are likely to be disappointed.  Don’t misunderstand!  Yes, our lives are better when we serve Jesus – after all, we’re finally living life in the way that we were created to live it.  How could it not be better when we have a real relationship with the Living God, and we are filled with the actual presence of God the Holy Spirit?  It is wonderful to be a born-again believer in Christ – there is nothing like it in all the world!  BUT…that doesn’t necessarily equate to health, wealth, and prosperity in the present.  Our earthly problems don’t magically disappear the moment we come to faith.  We still have difficult relationships – we still have money problems – we still get sick, see warfare in this world, etc.  Will Jesus solve these things?  Yes!  But those are promises for the future kingdom; not for today.
    • With that in mind, what do we do for today?  We don’t look for the absence of problems; we look for the presence of Jesus in the midst of them.  One of the crucial differences between a born-again Christian & an unbeliever is that although we all still face the same difficulties, we don’t face them alone.  We don’t face them with only the help and advice of other men, which isn’t really any help at all.  At mankind’s best, it is well-intentioned – usually it’s empty – at its worst, it is downright harmful.  Instead, Christians face the same earthly problems with the God who created the heavens and the earth.  We face them with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the truth of God’s holy word.  So do we have problems?  Without question.  But we also have Jesus…so hold to Him!
  • In the present, Jesus said He wasn’t bringing peace, but “division.”  Interestingly, this is the only time this Greek word is used in the New Testament, and it seems to be a variant of another word that could speak of either division or distribution.  With this word, there’s no question.  It is division/disunity.  IOW, there’s no room here for an alternative interpretation, as if Jesus’ words could somehow be explained away.  He meant exactly what He said, and it was preserved for us by Luke (via the Holy Spirit) that Jesus spoke of outright division.  Considering how often Jesus spoke of the need for unity (particularly among His church, Jn 17), this is striking!  How could Jesus come for the purpose of disunity?  The answer is actually found in the objection.  We object because Jesus prayed for unity in the church; here, Jesus isn’t speaking of the church.  Jesus is speaking of the division of the church from the world.  Remember that the basic meaning of the Greek word translated “church” (εκκλησια) is “called-out ones.”  We have been called out from among the world, called out to be with Christ, because of our faith in Him.  Thus, we are different.  It’s not just that we are to act different (though we should!); we are different.  We are born of the Spirit – we have a new nature, having been made new creations – we are the aroma of Christ – we are the light of the world & the salt of the earth.  We are the sons & daughters of God, and that fundamentally makes us different than others around us.  Thus, Jesus divides us from them.  That was part of His purpose: to set us apart, drawing us to Himself, gathering us together as His body.  If Jesus didn’t divide us from the world, we would still be part of the world…we’d still be lost & unsaved!  So should be grateful that Jesus came to divide?  Absolutely, yes!
    • The problem for the Christian doesn’t arise because Jesus divides us from the world; the problem arises when the Christian still lives as if he/she is part of this world.  We need to be divided – we need to be separate!  That’s not to say that we become snobs & push other people aside. (Heaven forbid!)  But there certainly ought to be a visible difference between us & the rest of the world.  What does it say about our salvation, if someone could look at us beyond just a glance & not be able to tell whether or not we’re a Christian?  Think about it: How long does it take you to distinguish a cadaver from a living person?  That’s the difference between the lost & the saved!  Apart from Christ, people are dead in transgressions, and they live as if they’re dead to God, not knowing Him…because they don’t.  But someone who has been made alive by Christ, born of the Holy Spirit – there ought to be a difference!  There ought to be a visible distinction!
    • Ask yourself: is there?  Take time this morning to do a bit of self-assessment.  If someone got a glimpse of your regular day throughout the week, would they be able to know you’re a believer, even without you saying a word?  What in your life would reflect back upon the work of Jesus within you?  May God help us reflect more of Him & less of us!
  • This division even takes place within the family.  Vs. 52…

52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided 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 her mother-in-law.”

  • Name the family relationship, and people will be divided over Jesus.  This is just the way it is.  As close as fathers & sons may be, when they are split in their faith, they will be divided against one another.  Likewise with mothers & daughters, in-laws with in-laws, and every other family relationship imaginable.  Testimony after testimony could be given of children who come to faith that are later ostracized or even disowned by their unbelieving parents.  In some cultures, some parents have gone so far as to attempt to murder their children for leaving the previous faith of the family.
  • But again – that’s just the way it is.  As much as the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation, it also clearly divides those who believe from those who do not.  Family relationships can be forever changed by the gospel.  As drastic as that is, Jesus is worth it.  Jesus explicitly makes that point later on in the gospel of Luke: Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."  Does this negate the 5th Commandment to honor your father & mother?  Of course not – but it does put things into perspective.  Our standing with Jesus is more important than our standing with our parents…far more important!  Our relationship with Jesus is of infinite value, because our entire eternity rests upon it.  So in a way, we “hate” our parents, at least in comparison with our love for Christ.  A similar point is made here.  Should the case arise where a choice needs to be made between Jesus & our families, we should choose Jesus every time.  Adherence to the gospel brings division – there’s no two ways around it.  The Bible says that Jesus is a stone of stumbling & rock of offense (1 Pet 2:8) – when homes are divided in their faith, we have to expect loved ones to be divided from us.
  • Question: Does this mean we are to cut ourselves off from them?  Absolutely not!  To be sure, there are some cases that are more extreme than others.  Where there is abuse and/or other physical danger (which is a very real issue in some parts of the world), Christians should seek safety.  Neither should we as Christians condone sin, even though it may be done by the people we love the most.  But as much as possible, where we can reach across the divide with the gospel, we should.  Who better to share the truth of Jesus with, than your own family members?  They may not want to hear it, and they may divide themselves from us, but we can still reach out with love and grace and the gospel.
  • So Jesus spoke of the judgment He would bring upon the earth, as well as the division that would come as people made the decision whether or not to follow Him in faith.  In light of the judgment, that decision needed to be made sooner, rather than later.  People needed to discern the times – something they currently weren’t doing.  Vs. 54…
  • Discernment lacking (54-59)

54 Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. 55 And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is.

  • In 33AD, people didn’t have the luxury of instantaneous weather radars available on cell phones.  (For that matter, we didn’t have immediate access to those sorts of apps and smartphones until 10 years ago!  The 1st iPhone was released in June 2007.)  When most of us were younger, we at least had meteorologists on TV & radio to give us a weather report – earlier generations didn’t have that much.  They had to look at the sky, be aware of trends and patterns, and make their forecasts based on their best guesses.  That’s what Jesus points out here.  These were weather patterns specific to the topography of ancient Judea, and fairly reliable indicators of what forecasts could be expected.  For economies primarily based on agriculture, weather plays an important role, so it’s no surprise people got pretty good at the guessing game.  They could read the weather.
  • That’s all well & good, but there were more important signs to read.  Vs. 56…

56 Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?

  • What could be more important than a downpour or a heatwave?  Judgment Day.  Jesus calls the multitudes “hypocrites,” in much the same way that He called the scribes & the Pharisees hypocrites regarding their religious practices. The scribes & Pharisees majored on the minors and missed out on the majors.  They got stuck on enforcing legalistic traditions, rather than pointing people to the true heart of God.  They made their outsides look good & pious, but they were inwardly dead. (Mt 23)  It wasn’t much different with the crowds.  They were able to discern little things, but they couldn’t see the bigger picture.  They could forecast the weather & prepare their crops for what was about to come, but they couldn’t see the times around them & prepare themselves for Judgment Day.  They couldn’t discern the signs of the time, nor understand the urgency of the moment, and prepare themselves to see their Creator God.
  • That’s a big problem!  After all, of the few things in life that are absolutely guaranteed, one of them is the certainty of facing Almighty God.  People often say that there are two things guaranteed in life: death & taxes (not necessarily in that order), but the third is divine judgment.  The Bible makes this perfectly clear.  Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment."  There is an appointment already made for every single man & woman on earth, though we don’t know when it will be.  And if you’re not ready, it is a big problem indeed!
    • How do you know if you’re ready?  There’s only one way to be certain: place your faith & trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.  He is the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father except through Him. (Jn 14:6)  God sent Jesus to the world so that whoever believes upon Him might have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)  Should we confess Jesus as Lord, and sincerely believe upon Him in our hearts, we can be sure we will be saved. (Rom 10:9)  You will never be ready based on how often you show up at church, how much money you put in the box, what kind of good person you believe that you are, etc. – the only way is to turn to Jesus in faith & trust Him as your Lord.
    • If you’ve done that, praise God!  But even Christians still need to be ready.  Luke 12 has been full of Jesus’ teaching about the judgment that even born-again believers will face.  We will give an account to our Lord for the things done in the body, and we want to live in such a way that we are ready.  Thankfully, we do not fear losing our salvation – but we certainly don’t want to lose out on any reward.
  • Question: Why did Jesus chastise the multitudes for not discerning the time, if He wasn’t going to be coming back for 2000+ years?  The Bible is full of all kinds of teaching that Jesus’ return is imminent, but it hasn’t happened yet.  Is it all a bunch of false alarms?  No. (1) Jesus had every right to chastise the multitudes standing in front of them for their lack of discernment.  After all, they couldn’t even discern their Messiah right there among them.  They had all kinds of reasons to put their faith in Jesus right then & there, and most of them hadn’t done it.  Their lack of discernment was evident!  (2)  Jesus still was right to warn them of the coming judgment, because they truly weren’t ready.  That much is clear from their lack of faith.  If Jesus had shown Himself in His power & glory for judgment at the time, they would have all been destroyed.  (3) The judgment of God is not something that is reserved merely for the day of Jesus’ arrival at Armageddon.  However far off in the future that may be (whether it is this afternoon, in 20 years, or longer), the very moment we die we will face God for judgment.  The second your heart stops beating & your brain stops functioning is the second you’re looking Jesus in the eye.  If we cannot discern the need to be ready, we are lacking in wisdom indeed!
  • With that in mind, was it still possible for people to look around at the world and see the signs of judgment?  Is it possible for people to “discern this time”?  Yes.  While it’s true that some prophecy teaching can be rather far-fetched (playing the “pin the tail on the Antichrist” game), much prophecy is quite clear in the pages of Scripture.  There are certain things in the world that we can see as definite indicators that Jesus’ return is very soon.
    • The existence of a modern state of Israel.  Simply that Israel exists is a reason to get ourselves ready for Jesus!  The nation of Israel is prominently featured in all end-times prophecy, yet for nearly 1880 years it did not exist.  That all changed in 1948, and much of the focus of the entire world has been upon Israel ever since.
    • Closer ties between Iran (Persia) and Russia.  Many Bible teachers have seen Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the war of Gog & Magog against Israel (Ezekiel 38-39) as having the primary players being Russia & Iran.  For years, this was seen as impossible, (1) due to the crumbling of the Soviet Union, and (2) the historic mistrust between Russia & Iran in general.  All that has changed.  Russia has become a global power once again, and relations between the two nations have rarely been better.  From the May 20, 2017 edition of the Times of Israel paper, “Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on his re-election Saturday, calling for deeper ties between Moscow and Tehran.”  While it’s true that political alliances rise & fall, this is an alliance that calls attention to itself.
    • The pervasiveness of false doctrine within the church.  Paul wrote specifically about this issue, tying it precisely with the end-times: 1 Timothy 4:1–3, "(1) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (2) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, (3) forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth."  He went on in his 2nd letter to Timothy, warning of people who seemed to be Christians heaping up teachers for themselves to satisfy their itching ears. (2 Tim 4:3)  So much of this false doctrine & other teaching like it runs rampant through both formal & informal churches.
    • Is this a comprehensive list?  No…but it ought to be enough to get us thinking!  We have reason to look around & start analyzing the times in which we live.  We have much reason to be ready to see Jesus!

57 “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?

  • The people didn’t just lack discernment; they lacked wisdom.  Because they didn’t understand the imminent nature of God’s judgment, they didn’t understand the need to prepare themselves to face His judgment.  That’s why Jesus said they didn’t “judge what is right.”  Not only did they not judge what was righteous & just, but they didn’t judge the right thing to do.  Jesus goes on to give a practical example…

58 When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite.”

  • On the face of it, this seems pretty simple & straightforward.  If you’ve got someone with a legal case against you, it’s best to settle out of court than to risk the harsher punishment doled out by the judge.  We want to be reconciled with our brothers, even doing what it takes to be reconciled with our enemies, rather than face a stricter judgment from which there is no escape.
  • It’d be easy to leave it at that, and some commentators do so.  But that misses the broader context and the more important point that Jesus makes.  This isn’t simply free legal advice – it’s not even a mere proverbial teaching on how to act according to wisdom as we live among men.  What has been the whole context leading up to this point?  The judgment of God.  So what’s the idea here?  It’s also the judgment of God.  Perhaps it’s better to think of this as a parable, rather than a proverb.  There is a specific point made by Jesus: be reconciled!  Understand the dire need that you face, and do what it takes to be reconciled prior to judgment.  That has far less to do with interpersonal relationships than it does with eternal salvation!  We need to understand our dire need to be reconciled with God, and we need to get it done before we face Him for judgment – because when we do, it’ll be too late to do anything about it.
  • Does God drag us to judgment?  No.  Be careful not to make this an allegory, looking for a parallel on every point.  It’s not necessarily a straightforward parable, though it is certainly to one.  The main idea is clear: we have terribly offended God through our sin, and we are deserving of judgment.  Thus we need to take the opportunity we have now to settle with Him, because there will come a point when that opportunity is lost.  If it’s important to settle out of court with an earthly adversary, how much more with Almighty God?  There ought to be a sense of urgency here.  We need to be forgiven, and now is the only chance we have to receive forgiveness.  Why would anyone push it off & procrastinate?
    • Yet that’s what so many people do!  They push it off & push it off, saying, “Next year, I’ll get right with God…  As soon as I get through this mess, I’ll go to God… I’ll just enjoy this period of time, and then I’ll go back to Him…”  They find all kinds of excuses as to why they can’t do it right here & right now, and sooner or later they find they’re out of time.  Car accidents don’t schedule appointments with us.  Heart attacks don’t check our calendars before hitting.  Jesus certainly will not clear it with us before He returns.  If you’re putting off getting reconciled with God, the only person you’re fooling is yourself.  Hospital ICU units are filled with people who thought they had more time, only to learn differently.
    • Don’t put it off!  And don’t think that you can make yourself “right with God.”  There is only one who can: the Lord Jesus.  The only thing you can “do” is to turn away from your sins & trust Him as Lord, and that’s not an action so much as it is a response to Jesus.  But that’s not something you can afford to put off.  Do it today.
  • BTW – in the lesson/parable, Jesus told of an adversary who would accuse the person before the judge.  As Christians, we do have someone who accuses us (Satan), but we also have Someone who stands in our defense!  Jesus Christ the righteous is our Advocate (1 Jn 2:1), and there is none better!  He truly did pay every last penny of our debt, when He shed His blood for us at the cross.  Praise God for our Advocate!

Put it all together, and what does Jesus say?  He speaks of His work to be done, both at the cross & the future judgment.  People would need to choose sides, having enough common sense to understand what was going on around them & the wisdom to start making preparations.  From that perspective, what Jesus says isn’t unusual for Him at all.  It’s basically the same message He preached from the very beginning of His ministry: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt 4:17)

Are you ready?  Have you made your preparations?  It might mean some separation from the world – it might entail being divided from friends and family.  Jesus is worth it!  Once we know the truth of Jesus, how can we possibly give it up just to maintain the “status quo” with others?  Sometimes we say, “I just don’t want the relationship to change – I don’t want to rock the boat.  They’re offended by God & religion, so why bring it up?”  Because there’s nothing more important!  The status quo for an unbeliever is an eternity of hell.  By all means, rock that boat!  They need to know the difference that comes with a born-again believer in Jesus…and if that brings division, so be it.

As for us, we want to ensure that our own accounts with the Lord are clean.  We can look around at world & our culture & understand the times in which we’re living.  It ought to be clear that our world doesn’t have much time left before Jesus calls the church home in the rapture & the Great Tribulation begins.  At the very least, we need to be mindful of our own mortality, knowing that any one of us could be looking at Jesus by lunchtime.  So be ready! 


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