49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
And he talks here about fire. What in the world is Jesus talking about? When Jesus speaks of fire, he’s talking about passion, enthusiasm, zeal, commitment, devotion. People will talk about having a fire in their gut for something. Being fired up for someone or something. Fire here speaks of the Holy Spirit giving us the kind of passion that Jesus had. Jesus was God become a man during his earthly life, now he’s returned to his heavenly kingdom. And while on the earth, he was filled with a fire, a passion, a zeal, a commitment, a devotion. And he says that his passion is ultimately to complete his mission.
His mission was to live without sin and to die on the cross in our place for our sins that it might glorify the Father and do good for us. So that then he could baptize us, following his resurrection, with the same kind of fire. Jesus does just that. He goes to the cross, he suffers, he dies, he rises. He conquers our enemies of Satan, sin, death, hell, and the wrath of God. He ascends back into heaven and in the sequel to this book of Luke, the book of Acts, penned by the same author, the Holy Spirit descends upon the church, and resting above the Christians are something like flames of fire. That as the Holy Spirit indwells us, we become set aflame with a passionate love for Jesus. It’s a fire that burns within us. That’s the metaphor.
And so this passion, this flaming fire of devotion, it leads to both excitement and endurance. We’re excited about Jesus and the things of Jesus. And there is an endurance. There’s a long life of obedience, and devotion, and commitment, and followership toward Jesus.
I don't have the flaming fire of devotion very often. I mostly have glowing embers. Do you know what I mean? I would consider the glowing embers to be faith in God, His love for me, and His plan for each of us, love for God, a desire to be an obedient and devoted follower of Christ... but the flaming fire? The passion, zeal, commitment, devotion? How do we maintain that?
We had a lot of bonfires this summer. When you get down to glowing embers, you have to add fuel, right? Put more wood on the fire. Unblock the air holes at the bottom of the fire pit to let oxygen in. Maybe it's as simple as that. To have the flaming fire, the passion and zeal, we need the wood and oxygen of Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship. How do we obey and show commitment and followership if we don't know what is expected of us? And how can we know what is expected of us if we don't know what God has to say to us? How can we know what God has to say unless we are spending time with Him, studying His word, communicating with Him?
Hope you all have a great rest-of-the-week and weekend. Happy Thursday!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 12:54-59.