Pentecost 13c

Preached: August 26, 2007

Jesus Brings a Different Kind of Peace
Luke 12:49-53

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who pours out his Holy Spirit on us through his Word and Sacraments. That Word through which the Spirit speaks to us today is Luke 12

[Jesus said,] I came to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am distressed until it is finished. Do you suppose that I came near to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on there will be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three. A father will be divided 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.

This is the Word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints of God.

One of the devil's tricks takes something good and overdo it until it becomes sinful. For example, work is good. But when work consumes us and we no longer have time for family or God, then work has become the devil's tool. Or for another example, family is good. But when people start to lie, steal, or even kill for family, then family has become like the Mafia. The devil tempts us to abuse even God's best blessings.

And what about that blessing of peace? Christianity promises peace. The angels proclaimed, Peace on earth, good will to men, when Jesus was born. Peace is a good. But watch out! In the name of peace, Satan and the world tempt us to give up the truth. In the name of peace, they tempt us to compromise so that in the end we lose the peace that Jesus brings. For you see, Jesus brings a different kind of peace a peace that came through division and that causes division. Let's take to heart Jesus' words here as we focus on the theme: Jesus brings a different kind of peace.

A. He achieved this peace through his distress

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! (Luke 12:49, 50 NIV).

These do not sound like the words of a peacemaker. But Jesus was a different kind of peacemaker. He didn't use fuzzy words to muddle what he meant. People use fuzzy words so that everyone can read their own meaning into them. Then they can seem to have peace even though they still do not agree.

During his earthly ministry Jesus clearly spoke God's Word even when it stirred people up. For example, he called the Pharisees to account because they claimed that they did enough to be good in God's sight. Jesus called them white-washed tombs. They appeared good and clean on the outside, but inside they were dead and rotten like a corpse. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders did not like Jesus' words. The labeled Jesus a troublemaker, not a peacemaker.

But Jesus was looking ahead to a greater fire that would come. He was looking ahead to that fire that his baptism of suffering and death would bring. He uses fire and baptism figuratively. He has already been baptized with water by John the Baptist. But he looks ahead to the suffering that would be poured out on him and calls that a baptism.

What a price he paid to win your peace! Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, See him dying on the tree! 'Tis the Christ, by man rejected; Yes, my soul, 'tis he, 'tis he (Christian Worship 127:1). How distressed I am until it is completed! (Luke 12:49, 50 NIV).

But his greatest distress was not his disciples deserting him, or the nails in his hands, or the ridicule of the soldiers and crowd. His deepest distress echoes in his words: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46 NIV). To bring you peace, Jesus endured the division that goes beyond all imagination: Forsaken by the Father.

For on that cross Jesus became our sin and carried our guilt. Our sin divided us from God. If you think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great, Here you see its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate (Christian Worship 127:3).

Yet as great as our sin is, Jesus is greater. As deep and wide as our division from God was, Jesus bridges it. As bloody as was our warfare against God, Jesus' blood brings you peace. For from that cross Jesus called out, It is finished (John 19:30 NIV). His baptism of suffering in your place was now completed.

What a deep and dreadful baptism Jesus knew was ahead of him! But willingly, in grace and mercy toward you, in obedient love to his Father, he went through it and completed it to bring you peace. Through division, through separation from the Father's love, through his god-forsakenness, Jesus brought you peace a different kind of peace.

He brought you peace with God, the peace of sins forgiven, the greatest peace, the eternal peace. He is the Prince of Peace. How true the angels' words that declared peace on earth to us sinners because of God's good will that sent our Savior from sin! How great the words of promise from our risen Savior's lips, Peace be with you . . . If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven (John 20:21, 22 NIV)!

Jesus brings a different kind of peace. He achieved your peace through his distress on the bloody, god-forsaken cross. And this peace that came through division causes division. It divides us from the world.

B. In his peace we're divided from the world.

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division (Luke 12:51 NIV). And then Jesus describes how this division would split even the family. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Luke 12:52, 53 NIV).

When Jesus changes a person's heart so that they turn away from sin and follow him, those who still belong to the world hate them. For to follow Jesus is to confess him as our only Savior, the only way to heaven. And confessing that Jesus is the only way to heaven proclaims that all who do not follow him are going to hell. People don't like to hear that. They want you to compromise. They want you to say that Jesus is one of the ways to heaven. Then they can have their own peace of mind even if they don't follow Jesus.

But such a compromise betrays Jesus. If you could get to heaven some other way, why would he have come and suffered so on the cross? Or compromising and saying that Jesus is only part of the answer robs him of the glory. He went to the cross to be your total Savior, not a partial Savior. He suffered total god-forsakenness to fully ransom you and completely rescue you. Give him the full glory as your one and only Savior.

Not long after his death and resurrection we see the fiery division the Gospel of Jesus causes. The Apostles were arrested by the Jewish council in Jerusalem. Persecution against Christians broke out. Later as Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, the government put many Christian to death for refusing to honor the state religion. Or consider how when Martin Luther in the 1500's preached Jesus alone as our Savior apart from works or obedience to the Pope, he was excommunicated and declared an outlaw. Jesus spoke to truth about division

And his words are true still today. Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division (Luke 12:51 NIV). Don't fall under the world's spell that preaches compromise of the truth for the sake of peace. Remember that Jesus brings a different kind of peace. He brings you peace with God through the forgiveness of sins purchased by his holy, precious blood. That peace divides us from those who do not believe. To compromise is to forsake Jesus and join them.

So watch out when the world preaches peace and makes us feel guilty for standing up for the truth. Rather keep stand boldly. But make sure you are standing up for God's truth.

You see, when it comes to our own opinion, our own rights, our own wants and preferences, then Christian love not only compromises, but Christian love gives up what is ours. It surrenders all for the sake of the Gospel. This is what Jesus teaches when he tell us to turn the other check, to walk the extra mile, to pray for our enemies. Then follow the way of peace.

But when it comes to God's truth revealed in Scripture, don't give an inch, don't compromise a letter, don't tolerate any error. This is especially trying when other churches or Christians or even our own family that do compromise the truth criticize us for causing divisions. It is easy for us to start to feel guilty. We want peace and unity. Where can we turn for comfort?

First, remember Jesus words here. He made it clear that his truth brings division. When standing up for the truth of Gospel seems to destroy peace, don't let that trouble you. Jesus said that would happen.

Second, reinforce yourself in God's truth as you study his word. So that when stand up for the Gospel it is his Gospel your standing up for and not yours.

Finally and most importantly, remember the different kind of peace that Jesus brings. As you hold on to him as your only Savior, you have peace with God. That is far greater than any lose of earthly peace we might suffer. You have peace with God through the forgiveness of sins. So bring your guilt to him if the world makes you feel guilty. For even when we do the right thing and stand up for the truth, we know that our thoughts and words are stained by sin. Maybe we weren't clear enough, may we were too harsh or rude, maybe sinful pride that we know the truth and they don't lingers in our hearts. Each day bring your sin and guilt to Jesus. He paid for all those sins. That's the peace he brings to you. The peace of forgiveness. Peace with God through his blood.

With this peace in your heart, you can live at peace no matter what kind of fire or division rages around you. For he is your one and only Savior. In him is peace. For he brings you a different kind of peace. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313