There was once a time when the world knew not of its Savior. Yet there was hope because it had been foretold that a child would be born and called Emmanuel – God is with us. In Lent, we prepare for his coming anew. During this season, we discover for ourselves the call of salvation and the promise of eternal life.
Jesus is a man of peace and a voice of serenity in a troubled world. He is the good shepherd to us as he guides the flock with love and tenderness.
But not always.
There are times when Jesus confronts the sins of man with derision and with disdain. There was the time in the Temple when he angrily overturned the tables of the merchants trading there and demanded that they not make a market of his Father’s house. And when he sent his seventy-two disciples to the towns to deliver his message, he warned those of the great misery that would befall them if they were to reject these messengers.
Then, there was his lengthy diatribe against the Pharisees. He called them “blind fools” for their wrong guidance. He called them “hypocrites” for their self-indulgences while preaching self-discipline. He called them a “brood of vipers” for appearing to be righteous while acting with contempt for the law they espouse.
Yes, Jesus could be quite stern when provoked by the arrogant and the unrepentant.
And then there was the time where he gathered with the disciples and to speak of the choice they must make, the choice we all must make:
“I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8)
He goes on to tell them the parable of the master who left his home for days thus exposing it to robbers. Jesus says:
“But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:39 – 40)
The parable is a warning to be ready for the coming of God who will pass judgement upon us for what we have done and for how we have lived. It is warning that we can’t pick and choose the times when we follow the word of Christ and when we don’t. It is not a matter of convenience of when to listen to Jesus, rather it is a decision made daily to follow and believe.
Then, boldly and passionately, Jesus says to them:
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:49 – 51)
Jesus announces that his life will inevitably create division. For while we walk this earthly ground, the time will come when we are to proclaim to the world if we are for Christ, or not; if we are with God, or apart. To be Christian is to take a stand. To believe in Jesus Christ is the choice of a lifetime. And it is a choice that will divide us from those who don’t.
Where do you stand?
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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