Sunday 18 August 2013

Bible Book:

Luke 12:49-56 Sunday 18 August 2013


These are tough and puzzling sayings! We expect to find Jesusbringing people together and creating reconciliation. Instead, wefind him talking about division within and between families. Whatcan we make of it? First, we can notice that Jesus speaks with thepassion and urgency of a prophet. God's kingdom is an unstoppableand transforming reality. And Jesus uses two words - "fire" (v. 49)and "baptism" (v. 50) to bring that urgency home. Fire purifies, itexpresses judgement and it symbolises the transforming Spirit ofGod. Baptism, as Jesus presents it here, is an act of totalcommitment, a giving up of the self to a costly way of service.Popularly understood, Baptism has the flavour of 'welcome to thefamily'. But, from the point of view that Jesus is expressing,Baptism may mean leaving the family into which we've been born andjoining the new family of his disciples. In fact, in the earlyChurch, that is often what happened. Having a child who decided tobecome a baptized Christian could be a parent's worst nightmare andlead to complete estrangement. And in some situations the same istrue today.

Why does Jesus speak with such urgency? Because the time for thekingdom of God is now. The Greek word for time, 'kairos',does notsuggest a particular date or time of day (that would be 'chronos'from which we get the English 'chronology'), but the apt and urgentmoment for action. How, asks Jesus, can you read the signs thatindicate a change in the weather, but be blind to the changes thatGod is bringing to the world here and now. Christians inapartheidSouth Africa and in hard-pressed Palestinian communitieshave published kairos documents with urgent pleas for timelyaction. They argue that if we read 'the signs of the times' we willbecome aware of what God is doing - and what we must do if we areto be true to God's kingdom in a time of crisis.

To Ponder

  • What are your feelings as you read these words of Jesus? Whatdo you find most difficult or offensive?
  • Which of your settled relationships might come under pressureif you took the words of Jesus with complete seriousness?
  • What are the kairos issues in your situation - issues thatrequire urgent action on behalf of the kingdom of God? 
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