How do you view Jesus? Is He a Yoda-like guru that is serene and levelheaded? Would you compare Him to a Peace Corps volunteer with 70s-era grooviness?
Notice what Jesus in Luke 12:51 said about Himself:
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
The actual, biblical Jesus was very polarizing. You either hated Him or loved Him. For some, He grew more and more lovely. For others, He became despicable. Some flocked to Him while others sought ways to kill Him.
Many today view Jesus as a doting grandfather—boring but wise. Yet, no one in Scripture ever found Him to be uninteresting.
But did Jesus really come to Earth to bring division? Wasn’t He the “prince of peace”?
The next two verses of Luke 12:52-53 are telling:
“For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father 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 mother-in-law.”
Jesus will be the lightning rod of division in some families. Why is this so? Because Jesus’ truth claims are so exclusive that you can’t be indifferent.
It is popular in our culture to call Christians divisive. “They are always stirring people up,” people say. It is just as common to view other religions and viewpoints as inclusive and tolerant, and Christianity as just the opposite.
But all truth claims are exclusive. We all think we are right and everyone is wrong.
The problem is that most people don’t want anybody – Jesus included — telling them they are wrong. They don’t want authority in their lives.
What makes Jesus’ claim in Luke 12:51-52 so “over-the-top” in today’s society is that He’s insisting to be the center of our lives in all areas.
Don’t misunderstand Jesus’ teaching, though. He isn’t promoting a cavalier attitude toward the family. Instead, those who come to this biblical Jesus become better wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, children, employees – everything. That’s because Jesus teaches what it really means to lay down your life for Him and others.
Some may say, “That’s a huge sacrifice to follow Jesus! I might lose everything. This is too burdensome.” But they’re not understanding the richness of the blessings of following Christ. Is anything greater than having a personal relationship with God and your sins forgiven? We were lost … but He offered free salvation to us.
Let’s close with two questions to ponder:
1. Do you put conditions on what it means to follow this Jesus?
Some give up following Him because things didn’t work out like they thought it should. They are in the “I-tried-Jesus-but-it-didn’t-work-for-me” crowd. They put their own conditions on following Him, instead of making Him first in their lives.
2. Are you causing unnecessary division?
Sometimes we can be divisive rebel-rousers where Jesus was not.
The gospel frees us to follow Jesus out of love rather than out of fear. What Jesus are your following today?