We now have dry conditions around the state of Oklahoma and across the nation. Grass fires have been ignited by various causes. Crops are suffering. Fire is no laughing matter, especially if it is fast approaching your home and barns. We pray for rain to the Lord of all creation, so that He will have mercy on us and our land.
It is the 10th Sunday after Pentecost this weekend. In the Gospel lesson for this Sunday, Jesus said, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Luke 12:49) This fire is no laughing matter, either. How does this fire come?
Also in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "The water that I will give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)
From where do these cooling waters come? What is this fire and what is this water? What is the meaning of these cryptic sayings of Jesus?
He says, "I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." (Luke 12:50, 52)
All this talk from Jesus about a baptism of fire, about division and a lack of peace sounds strange to many. Yes, Christ is indeed the ultimate "peacemaker." So what does Jesus mean here?
This is the point. If Jesus is who he said he is, then he is the incarnate Son of God in human flesh. If he claims to give forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who believe in him, then that is true. Therefore, nothing can change this reality. It is true truth, not relative truth.
Thus, Jesus Christ becomes the cause of "fire" and "division," even among family members. Between father and son, mother and daughter and between in-laws. Why? Some in the family believe that Jesus Christ is who he said he is. Others do not believe it. Then, he becomes the cause of an inevitable division.
Now, some people may object that this is not what Christianity is all about. Others have turned Jesus into an innocuous figure. They can only accept isolated "feel good" sayings from Jesus' lips.
Jesus knew that he came to bear the scorching "baptism of fire" when God's just wrath against sin was poured out upon him on the cross. God's justice is appeased in his Son's sacrifice in place of mankind. God's love has chosen to declare the world justified, forgiven and reconciled in Christ's death on the cross and his glorious resurrection. Jesus said that all who actually believe this proclamation of the holy Gospel will be saved from hell and brought into heaven.
Jesus also knew that in the waters of "holy baptism," he brings the cool, clear streams of God's mercy and forgiveness personally into our lives. The wondrous picture of heaven in the Book of Revelation says, "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price." (Revelations 22:17)
These facts today are the same as in the first century A.D. Some will believe this is true, and others will not. This "fire" and "water" will always exist. If a person wants Jesus, one has to accept the difficult, as well as the easy teachings from his lips. "Fire on earth" and the "living streams of water" are some of those teachings.